Highly Selective Vertically Aligned Nanopores in Sustainably Derived Polymer Membranes by Molecular Templating

Xunda Feng, Kohsuke Kawabata, Gilad Kaufman, Menachem Elimelech, Chinedum O. Osuji

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


We describe a combination of molecular templating and directed self-assembly to realize highly selective vertically aligned nanopores in polymer membranes using sustainably derived materials. The approach exploits a structure-directing molecule to template the assembly of plant-derived fatty acids into highly ordered columnar mesophases. Directed self-assembly using physical confinement and magnetic fields provides vertical alignment of the columnar nanostructures in large area (several cm2) thin films. Chemically cross-linking the mesophase with added conventional vinyl comonomers and removing the molecular template results in a mechanically robust polymer film with vertically aligned 1.2-1.5 nm diameter nanopores with a large specific surface area of ∼670 m2/g. The nanoporous polymer films display exceptional size and charge selectivity as demonstrated by adsorption experiments using model penetrant molecules. These materials have significant potential to function as high-performance nanofiltration membranes and as nanoporous thin films for high-density lithographic pattern transfer. The scalability of the fabrication process suggests that practical applications can be reasonably anticipated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3911-3921
Number of pages11
JournalACS Nano
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Apr 25


  • directed self-assembly
  • liquid crystals
  • polymer membranes
  • sustainable polymers
  • vertically aligned nanopores


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