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Comment Processing & Handling

Progress for making smart membranes

By Gerald Ondrey |

Last month marked the completion of the three-year, €3.6-million E.U.-funded research project, Self-assembled Polymer Membranes (SelfMem). Coordinated by the Institute of Polymer Research at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht (HZG; Germany; www.hzg.de), with twelve partners from industry and academia in Israel, Canada and Europe, the SelfMem network studied self-organizing isoporous block copolymer membranes. For example, fine block copolymer membranes were produced with an upper surface layer that is highly ordered and uniformly permeated with pores, which serves as a filter, and a lower layer with a sponge-like structure that provides stability (photo). In the beginning of the project, “we knew practically nothing about structure property relationships and the parameters that are necessary for the formation of membranes,” says Volker Abetz, the project coordinator and HZG institute director. In 2011, membranes could be made from chemically different block copolymers for the first time. It was established that solubility is a key parameter. “Very slight variations in the composition of the solvent can suffice to prevent a membrane from forming,” he says. One achievement of SelfMem was the production of membranes…
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