Switchable pH-responsive polymeric membranes prepared via block copolymer micelle assembly
S.P. Nunes, A. R. Behzad, B. Hooghan, R. Sougrat, M. Karunakaran, N. Pradeep, U.Vainio, and K.-V. Peinemann
ACS Nano 5, 3516-3522, (2011)
A process is described to manufacture monodisperse asymmetric pH-responsive nanochannels with very high densities (pore density >2 × 1014 pores per m2), reproducible in m2 scale. Cylindric pores with diameters in the sub-10 nm range and lengths in the 400 nm range were formed by self-assembly of metal-block copolymer complexes and nonsolvent-induced phase separation. The film morphology was tailored by taking into account the stability constants for a series of metal–polymer complexes and confirmed by AFM. The distribution of metal–copolymer micelles was imaged by transmission electron microscopy tomography. The pH response of the polymer nanochannels is the strongest reported with synthetic pores in the nm range (reversible flux increase of more than 2 orders of magnitude when switching the pH from 2 to 8) and could be demonstrated by cryo-field emission scanning electron microscopy, SAXS, and ultra/nanofiltration experiments.