Solvent transport behavior of shear aligned graphene oxide membranes and implications in organic solvent nanofiltration

Abozar Akbari, Sally E. Meragawi, Samuel T. Martin, Ben Corry, Ezzatollah Shamsaei, Christopher D. Easton, Dibakar Bhattacharyya, Mainak Majumder

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57 Citations (Scopus)


Solvent transport in membranes composed of stacked sheets of graphene oxide (GO) with molecular scale channels and a complex arrangement of hydrophobic and hydrophilic domains is not well understood. Here, we observe that the interlayer space between GO sheets expands in different solvents without disturbing the membrane integrity and is typically larger in aqueous media compared to nonaqueous media. However, the membranes have a tighter molecule sieving feature in aqueous media as demonstrated by lower permeance and higher solute rejection arising from interfacial water layers "sticking" to charged polar groups. As a result of this polar interaction, the permeance of polar solvents in GO membrane scales inversely to the polarity of the solvent, which is contrary to other polymeric and ceramic hydrophilic membranes and also scales inversely to the viscosity of solvents as per continuum expectations. We highlight the extended solvent-handling space of GO membranes, such as in polar protic, polar aprotic, and nonpolar solvents, demonstrating versatility over a commercial nanofiltration membrane, and we predict exciting new applications in advanced separation engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2067-2074
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2018


  • graphene
  • graphene oxide
  • membrane
  • nanofiltration
  • organic solvent
  • solvent transport

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