Optimizing Water Transport through Graphene-Based Membranes: Insights from Nonequilibrium Molecular Dynamics

J Muscatello and F Jaeger and OK Matar and EA Muller, ACS APPLIED MATERIALS & INTERFACES, 8, 12330-12336 (2016).

DOI: 10.1021/acsami.5b12112

Recent experimental results suggest that stacked layers of graphene oxide exhibit strong selective permeability to water. To construe this observation, the transport mechanism of water permeating through a membrane consisting of layered graphene sheets is investigated via nonequilibrium and equilibrium molecular dynamics simulations. The effect of sheet geometry is studied by changing the offset between the entrance and exit slits of the membrane. The simulation results reveal that the permeability is not solely dominated by entrance effects; the path traversed by water molecules has a considerable impact on the permeability. We show that contrary to speculation in the literature, water molecules do not pass through the membrane as a hydrogen-bonded chain; instead, they form well-mixed fluid regions confined between the graphene sheets. The results of the present work are used to provide guidelines for the development of graphene and graphene oxide membranes for desalination and solvent separation.

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