Atomistic insights into the separation mechanism of multilayer graphene membranes for water desalination†
Graphene-based membranes have been extensively explored owing to their excellent separation properties. In this paper, multiple factors regarding desalination performance were investigated by molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. These factors include the interlayer spacing distance (H), the gap width (dG), offset (O), and the number of gaps and layers in a multilayer graphene membrane (MGM). It is found that salt rejection is influenced significantly by the interlayer spacing distance owing to the largest free energy between ions and graphene sheets as well as the relatively larger size of the hydration layer around the ions. The optimal desalting parameter (dG = 1 nm, H = 0.8 nm) was selected; MGM systems based on the optimized parameter exhibited excellent salt rejection for NaCl, MgCl2 and CaCl2 solutions. These results can provide some ideas for the future design of graphene-based membranes.