Scalable and Highly Repeatable Fabrication of Low Cost, Ultrathin Graphene Oxide Membranes for Highly Selective Gas Separation



Reference #: 01004

The University of South Carolina is offering licensing opportunities for a new class of ultrathin, graphene-based nanomesh with superior separation performance. By precisely adjusting membrane morphology, these nanomeshes can be used for a number of mixture separations.

Invention Description:

The subject invention describes the preparation of highly-selective, graphene-based membranes with tunable pores by a simple and scalable filtration process.

Potential Applications:

  • Separation of small gas molecules (H2 separation, CO2 capture, gas sensors, etc.)
  • Desalination and nanofiltration for water purification and wastewater treatment
  • Medical applications such as dialysis

Advantages and Benefits:

1.  Low-cost, scalable, and high efficiency

2.  High selectivity and high flux as a result of controllable pore sizes and superior thinness (~2 nm)

3.  Chemically stable and mechanically strong

4.  Applicable in various harsh environments



Selectivity and flux are two important parameters for evaluating separation performance when applying membrane technology. Membrane thickness needs to be minimized to maximize flux, and the pore size needs to be accurately controlled and uniform to only allow smaller molecules to pass through. Current membranes are too thick (>50 nm) and have relatively wide pore size distribution. However, these ultrathin (<5 nm), graphene-based nanomeshes with tunable pore sizes (0.3 - >10 nm) have great potential to be the ideal membranes for separations. They are able to separate target mixtures with both high selectivity and high flux, resulting from their controllable pore sizes and thinness.

Testing and Development:

Membrane prototypes for H2 separation demonstrated mixture separation selectivities for H2/CO2 and H2/N2 mixtures that were 1 to 2 orders of magnitude higher than current state-of-the-art microporous membranes, and H2 permeances as high as 2 x 10-7 mol/(m2·s·Pa). Prototypes for water purification have also been developed.

Patent Information:
Title App Type Country Serial No. Patent No. File Date Issued Date Expire Date Patent Status
Ultrathin, Molecular-Sieving Graphene Oxide Membranes for Separations Along with Their Methods of Formation and Use Utility United States 14/180,724 9,108,158 2/14/2014 8/18/2015    
For Information, Contact:
Technology Commercialization
University of South Carolina
Miao Yu
Hang Li
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