Maximizing the grafting of zwitterions onto the surface of ultrafiltration membranes to improve antifouling properties
Nima Shahkaramipour, Amin Jafari, Thien Tran, Christopher M. Stafford, Chong Cheng, Haiqing Lin
Superhydrophilic zwitterions have been extensively exploited for surface modification to improve antifouling properties. However, it remains challenging to form layers of < 20 nm with high zwitterion content on the surfaces with different degrees of hydrophilicity. We demonstrate that amine-functionalized sulfobetaine (SBAm) can be co-deposited with dopamine on ultrafiltration (UF) membranes, leading to a thickness of 10 nm to 50 nm and an SBAm content of up to 31 mass% in the coating layers. The covalently grafted SBAm is stable underwater and improves the antifouling properties, as evidenced by the lower trans-membrane pressure required to retain targeted water fluxes than that required for the pristine membranes. The SBAm is also more effective than conventionally used sulfobetaine methacrylate (SBMA) for the zwitterion grafting on the surface to improve antifouling properties.