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Issue 63, 2015
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Temperature-responsive nanofibers for controllable oil/water separation

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Surface functionalization with stimuli-responsive materials can turn an ordinary material into a smart one that shows adaptive properties upon external stimuli. In this study, an electrospun regenerated cellulose (RC) nanofibrous membrane was firstly prepared; subsequently, poly(N-isopropylacrylamide) (PNIPAAm), a thermo-responsive polymer, was surface grafted to form the polymer chains/brushes on the surface of RC nanofibers via the surface-initiated atom transfer radical polymerization (SI-ATRP) method. Thereafter, the PNIPAAm-modified RC nanofibrous membrane was investigated for its temperature-responsive surface wettability at temperatures below/above the lower critical solution temperature (LCST). Furthermore, the nature of the hydrophilic/hydrophobic transitions of the modified nanofibrous membrane was also investigated through the water up-take and release experiment at various temperatures. Especially, as responses to different temperatures, the PNIPAAm-grafted nanofibrous membrane exhibits switchable super-lyophilic/super-lyophobic properties at a water–oil–solid three-phase interface. With the large surface area and switchable surface wettability, the as-prepared PNIPAAm-grafted nanofibrous membrane exhibits excellent properties of controllable oil/water separation, and possesses great potential towards both wastewater treatment and oil purification.

Graphical abstract: Temperature-responsive nanofibers for controllable oil/water separation

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Supplementary files

Article information

12 May 2015
02 Jun 2015
First published
03 Jun 2015

RSC Adv., 2015,5, 51078-51085
Article type

Temperature-responsive nanofibers for controllable oil/water separation

Y. Wang, C. Lai, H. Hu, Y. Liu, B. Fei and J. H. Xin, RSC Adv., 2015, 5, 51078
DOI: 10.1039/C5RA08851H

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