Scalable synthesis of nanoporous atomically thin graphene membranes for dialysis and molecular separations via facile isopropanol-assisted hot lamination†
Scalable graphene synthesis and facile large-area membrane fabrication are imperative to advance nanoporous atomically thin membranes (NATMs) for molecular separations. Although chemical vapor deposition (CVD) allows for roll-to-roll high-quality monolayer graphene synthesis, facile transfer with atomically clean interfaces to porous supports for large-area NATM fabrication remains extremely challenging. Sacrificial polymer scaffolds commonly used for graphene transfer typically leave polymer residues detrimental to membrane performance and transfers without polymer scaffolds suffer from low yield resulting in high non-selective leakage through NATMs. Here, we systematically study the factors influencing graphene NATM fabrication and report on a novel roll-to-roll manufacturing compatible isopropanol-assisted hot lamination (IHL) process that enables scalable, facile and clean transfer of CVD graphene on to polycarbonate track etched (PCTE) supports with coverage ≥99.2%, while preserving support integrity/porosity. We demonstrate fully functional centimeter-scale graphene NATMs that show record high permeances (∼2–3 orders of magnitude higher) and better selectivity than commercially available state-of-the-art polymeric dialysis membranes, specifically in the 0–1000 Da range. Our work highlights a scalable approach to fabricate graphene NATMs for practical applications and is fully compatible with roll-to-roll manufacturing processes.