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J. Mater. Sci. Technol.  2018, Vol. 34 Issue (9): 1481-1486    DOI: 10.1016/j.jmst.2018.05.008
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Reduced graphene oxide/metal oxide nanoparticles composite membranes for highly efficient molecular separation
Khalid Hussain Theboab, Xitang Qianac, Qinwei Weiac, Qing Zhangac, Hui-Ming Chengad, Wencai Rena*()
a Shenyang National Laboratory for Materials Science, Institute of Metal Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 72 Wenhua Road, Shenyang 110016, China
b University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS), 19 A Yuquan Road, Shijingshan District, Beijing 100049, China
c School of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Science and Technology of China, 72 Wenhua Road, Shenyang 110016, China
d Tsinghua-Berkeley Shenzhen Institute (TBSI), Tsinghua University, 1001 Xueyuan Road, Shenzhen 518055, China
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Graphene oxide (GO) membranes play an important role in various nanofiltration applications including desalination, water purification, gas separation, and pervaporation. However, it is still very challenging to achieve both high separation efficiency and good water permeance at the same time. Here, we synthesized two kinds of GO-based composite membranes i.e. reduced GO (rGO)@MoO2 and rGO@WO3 by in-situ growth of metal nanoparticles on the surface of GO sheets. They show a high separation efficiency of ~100% for various organic dyes such as rhodamine B, methylene blue and evans blue, along with a water permeance over 125 L m-2 h-1 bar-1. The high water permeance and rejection efficiency open up the possibility for the real applications of our GO composite membranes in water purification and wastewater treatment. Furthermore, this composite strategy can be readily extended to the fabrication of other ultrathin molecular sieving membranes for a wide range of molecular separation applications.

Key words:  Graphene oxide      Composite      Membranes      Separation      Permeance     
Received:  10 April 2018      Published:  25 September 2018
Corresponding Authors:  Ren Wencai     E-mail:

Cite this article: 

Khalid Hussain Thebo, Xitang Qian, Qinwei Wei, Qing Zhang, Hui-Ming Cheng, Wencai Ren. Reduced graphene oxide/metal oxide nanoparticles composite membranes for highly efficient molecular separation. J. Mater. Sci. Technol., 2018, 34(9): 1481-1486.

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Fig. 1.  Structure characterization of rGO@metal oxide nanoparticles composite membranes. (a, b) Top-view SEM images of rGO@MoO2 (a) and rGO@WO3 (b) composite membrane. (c, d) Cross-sectional SEM images of rGO@MoO2 (c) and rGO@WO3 (d) composite membrane. (e, f) Raman spectra (e) and XRD patterns (f) of GO, rGO@MoO2, and rGO@WO3 membrane.
Fig. 2.  Chemical composition and bonding characterization of rGO@metal oxide nanoparticles composite membranes. (a-c) C 1s XPS spectra of GO (a), rGO@MoO2 (b), and rGO@WO3 membranes (c). (d) FTIR spectra of GO, rGO@MoO2, and rGO@WO3 composite membranes.
Fig. 3.  Permeance and separation performance of rGO@metal oxide composite membranes. (a, b) Permeance and rejection to different organic dyes of rGO@MoO2 (a) and rGO@WO3 (b) composite membranes at a trans-membrane pressure of 1.0 bar. (c, d) UV-vis absorption spectra of the feed, permeate and retentate of RB after filtration by rGO@MoO2 (c) and rGO@WO3 (d) composite membranes. The insets show the photos of the feed and permeate solutions.
Dyes MW (g mol-1) Charge rGO@MoO2 membrane (800 nm) rGO@WO3 membrane (1000 nm)
Permeance (L m-2 h-1 bar-1) Rejection (%) Permeance (L m-2 h-1 bar-1) Rejection (%)
RB 479.0 + 145 100 140 100
MLB 373.0 + 145 100 140 100
FA 585.53 - 150 95 160 98
MB 799.8 - 180 90 180 85
EB 960.0 - 125 100 130 100
Table 1  Water permeance and separation performance of rGO@metal oxide nanoparticles composite membranes to various dye molecules at 25 °C.
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