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Nat Commun. 2019 Sep 13;10(1):4160. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-12100-0.

Metal-coordinated sub-10 nm membranes for water purification.

You X1,2, Wu H3,4,5, Zhang R1,2, Su Y1,2, Cao L1,2, Yu Q1,2, Yuan J1,2, Xiao K1,2, He M1,2, Jiang Z6,7.

Author information

1
Key Laboratory for Green Chemical Technology, School of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Tianjin University, Tianjin, 300072, China.
2
Collaborative Innovation Center of Chemical Science and Engineering (Tianjin), Tianjin, 300072, China.
3
Key Laboratory for Green Chemical Technology, School of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Tianjin University, Tianjin, 300072, China. wuhong@tju.edu.cn.
4
Collaborative Innovation Center of Chemical Science and Engineering (Tianjin), Tianjin, 300072, China. wuhong@tju.edu.cn.
5
Tianjin Key Laboratory of Membrane Science and Desalination Technology, Tianjin University, Tianjin, 300072, China. wuhong@tju.edu.cn.
6
Key Laboratory for Green Chemical Technology, School of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Tianjin University, Tianjin, 300072, China. zhyjiang@tju.edu.cn.
7
Collaborative Innovation Center of Chemical Science and Engineering (Tianjin), Tianjin, 300072, China. zhyjiang@tju.edu.cn.

Abstract

Ultrathin membranes with potentially high permeability are urgently demanded in water purification. However, their facile, controllable fabrication remains a grand challenge. Herein, we demonstrate a metal-coordinated approach towards defect-free and robust membranes with sub-10 nm thickness. Phytic acid, a natural strong electron donor, is assembled with metal ion-based electron acceptors to fabricate metal-organophosphate membranes (MOPMs) in aqueous solution. Metal ions with higher binding energy or ionization potential such as Fe3+ and Zr4+ can generate defect-free structure while MOPM-Fe3+ with superhydrophilicity is preferred. The membrane thickness is minimized to 8 nm by varying the ligand concentration and the pore structure of MOPM-Fe3+ is regulated by varying the Fe3+ content. The membrane with optimized MOPM-Fe3+ composition exhibits prominent water permeance (109.8 L m-2 h-1 bar-1) with dye rejections above 95% and superior stability. This strong-coordination assembly may enlighten the development of ultrathin high-performance membranes.

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