Atomistic understandings of reduced graphene oxide as an ultrathin-film nanoporous membrane for separations

LC Lin and JC Grossman, NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 6, 8335 (2015).

DOI: 10.1038/ncomms9335

The intrinsic defects in reduced graphene oxide (rGO) formed during reduction processes can act as nanopores, making rGO a promising ultrathin-film membrane candidate for separations. To assess the potential of rGO for such applications, molecular dynamics techniques are employed to understand the defect formation in rGO and their separation performance in water desalination and natural gas purification. We establish the relationship between rGO synthesis parameters and defect sizes, resulting in a potential means to control the size of nanopores in rGO. Furthermore, our results show that rGO membranes obtained under properly chosen synthesis conditions can achieve effective separations and provide significantly higher permeate fluxes than currently available membranes.

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