Layer-by-layer assembly of graphene oxide nanosheets on polyamide membranes for durable reverse-osmosis applications.ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 2013; 5(23):12510-9AA
Improving membrane durability associated with fouling and chlorine resistance remains one of the major challenges in desalination membrane technology. Here, we demonstrate that attractive features of graphene oxide (GO) nanosheets such as high hydrophilicity, chemical robustness, and ultrafast water permeation can be harnessed for a dual-action barrier coating layer that enhances resistance to both fouling and chlorine-induced degradation of polyamide (PA) thin-film composite (TFC) membranes while preserving their separation performance. GO multilayers were coated on the PA-TFC membrane surfaces via layer-by-layer (LbL) deposition of oppositely charged GO nanosheets. Consequently, it was shown that the conformal GO coating layer can increase the surface hydrophilicity and reduce the surface roughness, leading to the significantly improved antifouling performance against a protein foulant. It was also demonstrated that the chemically inert nature of GO nanosheets enables the GO coating layer to act as a chlorine barrier for the underlying PA membrane, resulting in a profound suppression of the membrane degradation in salt rejection upon chlorine exposure.