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IFM researchers have developed a new, highly efficient method of preparing porous and reduced graphene oxide.
A portable device that uses 'smart matter' could transform medical diagnosis in developing countries.
Professor Lingxue Kong
+61 (3) 522 72087
The research into membranes at IFM has focused on tackling the chronic water shortage in Australia, aiming to develop novel nano-filtration membrane of high efficiency and high selectivity. We started research into new membranes including metallic, organic, inorganic, and composite membranes. The research has been enhanced with the commencement of the Collaborative Research Networks (CRN) program and through collaboration with Victoria University.
Electroless deposition of metals (here gold) on the surface of poly(carbonate) etched membranes. Metals are being deposited on the surface of the membrane and of its pores to form a semi-dense structure alloying for fine control of both pore size and porosity.
Nano-porous gold membranes: commercially available white gold leaves (50Au:50Ag) are de-alloyed to reveal a random network of pores (~ 20 nm in diameter). The de-alloyed gold films are ~100 nm thick allowing for fast transport across the membrane.
Porous copper membranes: Copper/Zinc thin films were also de-alloyed to produce low cost nano-porous membranes. The Zinc metal is preferentially etched away under reducing conditions and solubilized revealing the copper matrix of the alloy.
Nano-porous metal membranes were also prepared from the sintering of mixed metal nano-particles with a sacrificial template leading to highly versatile porosities and pore size distribution. These thin porous layers were then sintered onto thicker metal nano-fibre meshes formed by the reduction of metal salts rich electrospun nano-fibres.
The use of lyotropic liquid crystals (LLC) as a template to form periodic nanostructures in polymer materials is a promising technology with applications in gas and water filtration, biology, and health science. Highly ordered meso-structures can be prepared through block-copolymer self-assembly or in situ co-polymerisation.
The group is also dedicated to the integration and continuous growth of metal organic frameworks (MOFs) into porous nano-structures, including carbon nanotube and metal substrates. This work aims at providing to the fragile and discrete MOFs crystals strong and versatile templates for enhanced gas separation performance.
The development of synthesis methods for pinhole free, mechanically stable, inorganic-organic hybrid membranes that combine advantages of both inorganic and organic membranes, is attracting a great deal of interest.
We are developing these mixed matrix membranes (MMMs) by mixing different inorganic materials, such as carbon nanotubes, zeolite, graphene and metal-organic frameworks into polysulfones, polyarylates, polycarbonates, poly(arylethers), poly(arylketones) and polyimides for gas separation and water purification. The goal of the project is to design and manufacture MMMs to improve gas or water flux while maintaining other properties.
Making a mixed matrix membrane using polymer/nano-particle solvent casting. Water or gas molecules can diffuse at the interface between the polymer matrix and the nano-particles to give a membrane with enhanced flow properties.
The group is investigating novel desalination technologies including capacitive deionisation, membrane distillation and membrane evaporation by using advanced functional graphene and metal membranes.
The team is involved across a number of projects related to a number of Australian Synchrotron beamlines including powder diffraction, X-ray spectroscopy and small/wide angle X-ray scattering (SAXS/WAXS). Recent work demonstrated that SAXS can be used to characterise alignment of nano-particles, pore shape and distribution as well as resolving the diffusion mechanisms across micro-porous materials.
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