IISER Develops New Method for Producing COF Membranes

Covalent organic framework (COF) materials are lightweight, highly thermally stable and permanently porous, making them a good choice for membrane-based separation applications

Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Bhopal researchers led by Dr Abhijit Patra have made an advancement in the field of porous membranes for molecular separation. The researchers have developed a novel method to produce free-standing crystalline nanoporous organic films that can separate toxic organic micropollutants from water.

The details of the study have been published in the prestigious journal, Angewandte Chemie, in a paper co-authored by Dr Abhijit Patra, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, IISER Bhopal and his research scholars Arkaprabha Giri, G Shreeraj and Tapas Kumar Dutta.

Membrane separation is a widely used technique in industry for separating and purifying various substances. The membranes used for this process are usually made of porous materials, with pore size being an important factor in determining their filtration functionality. Scientists have been researching various types of porous materials for many years. Recently, covalent organic frameworks (COFs) have emerged as promising porous materials for membrane-based separation.

COFs are two-dimensional or three-dimensional crystalline porous organic polymers that have unique advantages over other porous materials because their structures and functions can be precisely designed. These materials are lightweight, highly thermally stable, and permanently porous, making them an excellent choice for membrane separation applications.

Methods for the synthesis of COFs are being explored all over the world. The researchers at IISER Bhopal have demonstrated the transformation of an organic imine cage molecule into a free-standing COF film. The films were nanoporous, i.e., the pores in the films were a hundred thousand times smaller than the width of a single human hair.

The films were tested for selective separation of toxic organic micropollutants through a nanofiltration technique and shown to be effective.

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