Ionic Dendrimer Based Polyamide Membranes for Ion Separation

Ze-Lin Qiu, Li-Feng Fang, Yu-Jie Shen, Wen-Han Yu, Bao-Ku Zhu*, Claus Hélix-Nielsen*, Wenjing (Angela) Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Separating low/high-valent ions with sub-nanometer sizes is a crucial yet challenging task in various areas (e.g., within environmental, healthcare, chemical, and energy engineering). Satisfying high separation precision requires membranes with exceptionally high selectivity. One way to realize this is constructing well-designed ion-selective nanochannels in pressure-driven membranes where the separation mechanism relies on combined steric, dielectric exclusion, and Donnan effects. To this aim, charged nanochannels in polyamide (PA) membranes are created by incorporating ionic polyamidoamine (PAMAM) dendrimers via interfacial polymerization. Both sub-10 nm sizes of the ionic PAMAM dendrimer molecules and their gradient distributions in the PA nanofilms contribute to the successful formation of defect-free PA nanofilms, containing both internal (intramolecular voids) and external (interfacial voids between the ionic PAMAM dendrimers and the PA matrix) nanochannels for fast transport of water molecules. The external nanochannels with tunable ionizable groups endow the PA membranes with both high low/high-valent co-ion selectivity and chemical cleaning tolerance, while the ion sieving/transport mechanism was analyzed by employing the Donnan steric pore model with dielectric exclusion.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalACS Nano
    Issue number4
    Pages (from-to)7522–7535
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


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