Interface-Induced Affinity Sieving in Nanoporous Graphenes for Liquid- Phase Mixtures

YN Hou and ZJ Xu and XN Yang, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY C, 120, 4053-4060 (2016).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.5b10287

In this work, we simulate the hydraulic permeation of liquid ethanol water mixtures through a series of nanoporous graphene membranes. Ethanol was found to have larger permeability as compared to water in the mixture. For the first time, we present direct computational evidence that nanoporous graphenes exhibit promising potential as ethanol-permselective sieving membranes for the separation of ethanol water mixtures, with ethanol permeability several orders of magnitude higher than current pervaporation membranes. The underlying sieving mechanism is not the process of pore-size sieving, but has been distinctively revealed as the sieving mode based on interfacial affinity. The enhanced hydrophobic surface adsorption and preferential pore trapping function in nanoporous graphene structure lead to the selective penetration of ethanol. Our results provide new insight into the molecular penetration across atomically thick nanoporous graphenes, and it further represents a proof of concept design of highly efficient nanoporous graphenes in membrane separation and nanofluidic devices for liquid-phase mixtures.

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