3 years ago

Tailoring Membrane Surface Properties and Ultrafiltration Performances via the Self-Assembly of Polyethylene Glycol-block-Polysulfone-block-Polyethylene Glycol Block Copolymer upon Thermal and Solvent Annealing

Tailoring Membrane Surface Properties and Ultrafiltration Performances via the Self-Assembly of Polyethylene Glycol-block-Polysulfone-block-Polyethylene Glycol Block Copolymer upon Thermal and Solvent Annealing
Yunxia Hu, Tao Wang, Ning Wang
Recently, ultrafiltration (UF) membranes have faced great challenges including the fine control of membrane surfaces for high filtration performances and antifouling properties in treating complex solution systems. Here, a particular type of amphiphilic block copolymer polyethylene glycol-block-polysulfone-block-polyethylene glycol (PEG-b-PSf-b-PEG) was synthesized through one-pot step-growth polymerization with mPEG [monomethylpoly(ethylene glycol)] as two ends to achieve the mobility of hydrophilic polymer chains. Without any other polymers or additives involved, the PEG-b-PSf-b-PEG triblock copolymer UF membrane was fabricated through the non-solvent-induced phase separation (NIPS) method. The surface properties and filtration performances of UF membranes were tailored through the self-assembly of PEG-b-PSf-b-PEG triblock copolymers combining the thermal and solvent annealing treatments in water at 90 °C for 16 h. The annealed PEG-b-PSf-b-PEG triblock copolymer membrane significantly enhanced its water flux resulting from the increased mean pore size with the improved porosity, as well as the decreased skin layer thickness, upon annealing. More importantly, the PEG-b-PSf-b-PEG triblock copolymer membrane surface turned from hydrophobic to hydrophilic upon annealing with the PEG enrichment on the surface, and exhibited improved protein antifouling performances. Our research opens a new avenue to tailor the membrane structure and surface properties by self-assembly of amphiphilic block copolymers upon thermal and solvent annealing treatments.

Publisher URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsami.7b06997

DOI: 10.1021/acsami.7b06997

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