Tailor-made polyamide membranes for water desalination

Wansuk Choi, Joung Eun Gu, Sang Hee Park, Seyong Kim, Joona Bang, Kyung Youl Baek, Byoungnam Park, Jong Suk Lee, Edwin P. Chan, Jung Hyun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Citations (Scopus)


Independent control of the extrinsic and intrinsic properties of the polyamide (PA) selective layer is essential for designing thin-film composite (TFC) membranes with performance characteristics required for water purification applications besides seawater desalination. Current commercial TFC membranes fabricated via the well-established interfacial polymerization (IP) approach yield materials that are far from ideal because their layer thickness, surface roughness, polymer chemistry, and network structure cannot be separately tailored. In this work, tailor-made PA-based desalination membranes based on molecular layer-by-layer (mLbL) assembly are presented. The mLbL technique enables the construction of an ultrathin and highly cross-linked PA seletive layer in a precisely and independently controlled manner. The mLbL-assembled TFC membranes exhibit significant enhancements in performance compared to their IP-assembled counterparts. A maximum sodium chloride rejection of 98.2% is achieved along with over 2.5 times higher water flux than the IP-assembled counterpart. More importantly, this work demonstrates the broad applicability of mLbL in fabricating a variety of PA-based TFC membranes with nanoscale control of the selective layer thickness and roughness independent of the specific polyamide chemistry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-355
Number of pages11
JournalACS nano
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jan 27

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 American Chemical Society.


  • molecular layer-by-layer
  • polyamide
  • reverse osmosis
  • thin film composite membrane
  • water desalination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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