Porous membranes designed from bi-phasic polymeric blends containing silver decorated reduced graphene oxide synthesized via a facile one-pot approach
In this work, porous membranes were designed by selectively etching the PEO phase, by water, from a melt-mixed PE/PEO blend. The pure water flux and the resistance across the membrane were systematically evaluated by employing an indigenously developed cross flow membrane setup. Both the phase morphology and the cross sectional morphology of the membranes was assessed by scanning electron microscopy and an attempt was made to correlate the observed morphology with the membrane performance. In order to design antibacterial membranes for water purification, partially reduced graphene oxide (rGO), silver nanoparticles (Ag) and silver nanoparticles decorated with rGO (rGO–Ag) were synthesized and incorporated directly into the blends during melt mixing. The loss of viability of bacterial cells was determined by the colony counting method using E. coli as a model bacterium. SEM images display that the direct contact with the rGO–Ag nanoparticles disrupts the cell membrane. In addition, the rGO–Ag nanoparticles exhibited a synergistic effect with respect to bacterial cell viability in comparison to both rGO and Ag nanoparticles. The possible mechanism associated with the antibacterial activity in the membranes was discussed. This study opens new avenues in designing antibacterial membranes for water purification.