Aquaporin-Incorporated Graphene-Oxide Membrane for Pressurized Desalination with Superior Integrity Enabled by Molecular Recognition

Chang Seon Lee, Insu Kim, Jae Won Jang, Dae sung Yoon, Yun Jung Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Aquaporins (AQPs), the natural water channel, have been actively investigated for overcoming the limitations of conventional desalination membranes. An AQP-based biomimetic high-pressure desalination membrane is designed by tethering AQP-carrying red blood cell membrane (RBCM) vesicles onto graphene oxide (GO). RBCMs with AQPs are incorporated into GO based on the molecular recognition between the integrin of RBCM and Arginine-Glycine-Aspartate (RGD) ligand on the GO surface. GO is pre-functionalized with the Glycine-Arginine-Glycine-Aspartate-Serine peptide to capture RBCMs. RBCMs are inserted between GO flakes through the material-specific interaction between integrin of RBCM and RGD ligand, thus ensuring sufficient coverage of channels/defects in the GO for the full functioning of the AQPs. The incorporated AQPs are not completely fixed at the GO, as tethering is mediated by the integrin–RGD pair, and suitable AQP flexibility for appropriate functioning is guaranteed without frictional hindrance from the solid substrate. The integrity of the GO–RBCMs binding can provide mechanical strength for enduring high-pressure reverse-osmosis conditions for treating large amounts of water. This biomimetic membrane exhibits 99.1% NaCl rejection and a water permeance of 7.83 L m−2 h−1 bar−1 at 8 bar with a 1000-ppm NaCl feed solution, which surpasses the upper-bound line of current state-of-the-art membranes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2101882
JournalAdvanced Science
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct 20

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
C.S.L. and I.K. contributed equally to this work. This work was funded by the Basic Science Research Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) of the Korean Ministry of Science and ICT (Grant Number NRF‐ 2021R1A2C2006170). This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) Grant funded by the Korean Government (MSIT) (No. NRF‐2019R1A2B5B01070617). This work was also supported by a Science and Technology Grant from the Korea Toray Science Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Advanced Science published by Wiley-VCH GmbH


  • aquaporin
  • biomimetic
  • graphene oxide
  • membranes
  • molecular recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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