Selective removal of nanometer-sized compounds such as proteins from fluids is an often challenging task in many scientific and industrial areas. Addressing such tasks with highly efficient and selective membranes is desirable since commonly used chromatographic approaches are expensive and difficult to scale up. Nanomembranes, molecularly thin separation layers, have been predicted and shown to possess outstanding properties but in spite ultra-fast diffusion times and high-resolution separation, to date they generally lack either of two crucial characteristics: compatibility with biological fluids and low-cost production. Here we report the fast and easy fabrication of highly crosslinked polymer membranes based on a thermoset resin (poly[(o-cresyl glycidyl ether)-co-formaldehyde (PCGF) cured with branched polyethyleneimine (PEI)) with nanoscale perforations of 25 nm diameter. During spin casting, microphase separation of a polylactide-co-glycolide induces the formation of nanometer sized domains that serve as templates for perforations which penetrate the 80 nm thick membranes. Ultrathin perforated nanomembranes can be freely suspended on the cm scale, exhibit high mechanical strength, low surface energies and a sharp permeability cutoff at a hydrodynamic diameter of 10 nm suitable for protein separations.
Scientific Reports – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 13, 2018
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