Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Thickness-Dependent Permeability of Molecular Layer-By-Layer Polyamide Membranes



William D. Mulhearn, Vladimir Oleshko, Christopher Stafford


We present the thickness-dependent permeability of highly crosslinked polyamide (PA) membranes formed by a molecular layer-by-layer (mLbL) deposition process. The deposition allows for the synthesis of extremely smooth, uniform PA films of tunable thickness, which is counter to the less controlled interfacial polymerization process used commercially. The ability to control and measure the membrane thickness allows us to elucidate the relationships among network structure, transport properties, and separation performance. In this work, a series of large- area mLbL PA membranes is prepared with thickness ranging from less than 5 nm to greater than 100 nm, which can be transferred defect-free via a film floating technique onto a macroporous support layer and challenged with salt solutions. A critical thickness of 15 nm is identified for efficient desalination, and water permeability is described using a multi-layer solution diffusion model that allows for the extraction of material properties relevant to transport. Finally, the model demonstrates the existence of two distinct layers in the mLbL films, one layer comprised of a (5 to 10) nm graded or less cross-linked layer at the surface and a more densely cross-linked layer in the interior of the film. This graded layer appears inherent to the mLbL deposition process and is observed at all film thicknesses.
Journal of Membrane Science


membranes, polyamides, molecular layer-by-layer, permeability, solution-diffusion


Mulhearn, W. , Oleshko, V. and Stafford, C. (2020), Thickness-Dependent Permeability of Molecular Layer-By-Layer Polyamide Membranes, Journal of Membrane Science, [online], (Accessed June 18, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created August 27, 2020, Updated October 12, 2021