Photocatalytic anti-biofouling performance of nanoporous ceramic membranes treated by atomic layer deposited ZnO

Kang Hee Park, Peng Fei Sun, Eun Heui Kang, Gwon Deok Han, Beom Joon Kim, Yongsun Jang, Sang Hoon Lee, Joon Hyung Shim, Hee Deung Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Biofouling caused by microorganisms is a critical problem in membrane treatment systems. In this study, we immobilized a highly photocatalytic active thin ZnO film on the surface of a nanoporous ceramic membrane using atomic layer deposition (ALD). Through a series of membrane characterizations, we confirmed that ALD ZnO is successfully deposited uniformly along the inner surface of the nanopores in the active layer of the membrane as desired. Additionally, the ALD ZnO-treated ceramic membrane exhibited excellent photocatalytic activity with a ZnO thickness of 36.5 nm under 1 mW/cm2 of UV-A light irradiation. Compared to the bare ceramic membrane, the ALD ZnO-treated membrane with UV-A irradiation showed higher anti-biofouling efficacy. We propose that reactive oxygen species generated from ZnO may impede microbial initial adhesion, thus inhibiting biofilm formation. However, with high irradiation intensity of UV-A, water flux decreased owing to membrane pore constriction, although no significant biofilm formation was observed. Nevertheless, the proposed ALD ZnO treatment on the nanoporous ceramic membrane is expected to provide a promising novel approach for effective prevention of biofouling in membrane-based processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118935
JournalSeparation and Purification Technology
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the Korea Ministry of Environment, South Korea as ‘‘Public Technology Program based on Environmental Policy” [Grant number E416-00070-0604-0].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Atomic layer deposition (ALD)
  • Biofouling
  • Ceramic membrane
  • Photocatalyst
  • Zinc oxide (ZnO)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Filtration and Separation


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