By creating nanoscale pores in a layer of graphene, it could be used as an effective separation membrane due to its chemical and mechanical stability, its flexibility and, most importantly, its one-atom thickness. Theoretical studies have indicated that the performance of such membranes should be superior to state-of-the-art polymer-based filtration membranes, and experimental studies have recently begun to explore their potential. Here, we show that single-layer porous graphene can be used as a desalination membrane. Nanometre-sized pores are created in a graphene monolayer using an oxygen plasma etching process, which allows the size of the pores to be tuned. The resulting membranes exhibit a salt rejection rate of nearly 100% and rapid water transport. In particular, water fluxes of up to 106 g m−2 s−1 at 40 °C were measured using pressure difference as a driving force, while water fluxes measured using osmotic pressure as a driving force did not exceed 70 g m−2 s−1 atm−1.
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Research sponsored by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, managed by UT-Battelle, LLC, for the US Department of Energy. Research also supported through a user proposal at ORNL's Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS), which is a US Department of Energy, Office of Science User Facility.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Surwade, S., Smirnov, S., Vlassiouk, I. et al. Water desalination using nanoporous single-layer graphene. Nature Nanotech 10, 459–464 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2015.37
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