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Title: Scalable synthesis of nanoporous atomically thin graphene membranes for dialysis and molecular separations via facile isopropanol-assisted hot lamination
Scalable graphene synthesis and facile large-area membrane fabrication are imperative to advance nanoporous atomically thin membranes (NATMs) for molecular separations. Although chemical vapor deposition (CVD) allows for roll-to-roll high-quality monolayer graphene synthesis, facile transfer with atomically clean interfaces to porous supports for large-area NATM fabrication remains extremely challenging. Sacrificial polymer scaffolds commonly used for graphene transfer typically leave polymer residues detrimental to membrane performance and transfers without polymer scaffolds suffer from low yield resulting in high non-selective leakage through NATMs. Here, we systematically study the factors influencing graphene NATM fabrication and report on a novel roll-to-roll manufacturing compatible isopropanol-assisted hot lamination (IHL) process that enables scalable, facile and clean transfer of CVD graphene on to polycarbonate track etched (PCTE) supports with coverage ≥99.2%, while preserving support integrity/porosity. We demonstrate fully functional centimeter-scale graphene NATMs that show record high permeances (∼2–3 orders of magnitude higher) and better selectivity than commercially available state-of-the-art polymeric dialysis membranes, specifically in the 0–1000 Da range. Our work highlights a scalable approach to fabricate graphene NATMs for practical applications and is fully compatible with roll-to-roll manufacturing processes.
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2825 to 2837
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National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract

    Direct synthesis of graphene with well‐defined nanoscale pores over large areas can transform the fabrication of nanoporous atomically thin membranes (NATMs) and greatly enhance their potential for practical applications. However, scalable bottom‐up synthesis of continuous sheets of nanoporous graphene that maintain integrity over large areas has not been demonstrated. Here, it is shown that a simple reduction in temperature during chemical vapor deposition (CVD) on Cu induces in‐situ formation of nanoscale defects (≤2–3 nm) in the graphene lattice, enabling direct and scalable synthesis of nanoporous monolayer graphene. By solution‐casting of hierarchically porous polyether sulfone supports on the as‐grown nanoporous CVD graphene, large‐area (>5 cm2) NATMs for dialysis applications are demonstrated. The synthesized NATMs show size‐selective diffusive transport and effective separation of small molecules and salts from a model protein, with ≈2–100× increase in permeance along with selectivity better than or comparable to state‐of‐the‐art commercially available polymeric dialysis membranes. The membranes constitute the largest fully functional NATMs fabricated via bottom‐up nanopore formation, and can be easily scaled up to larger sizes permitted by CVD synthesis. The results highlight synergistic benefits in blending traditional membrane casting with bottom‐up pore creation during graphene CVD for advancing NATMs toward practical applications.

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