Growth of ZnO self-converted 2D nanosheet zeolitic imidazolate framework membranes by an ammonia-assisted strategy


Shaping crystalline porous materials such as metal organic frameworks (MOFs) and zeolites into two-dimensional (2D) nanosheet forms is highly desirable for developing high-performance molecular sieving membranes. However, conventional exfoliation–deposition is complex and challenging for the large-scale fabrication of nanosheet MOF tubular membranes. Here, for the first time, we report a direct growth technique by ZnO self-conversion and ammonia assistance to fabricate zeolitic imidazolate framework (ZIF) membranes consisting of 2D nanosheets on porous hollow fiber substrates; the membranes are suitable for large-scale industrial gas separation processes. The proposed fabrication process for ZIF nanosheet membranes is based on the localized self-conversion of a pre-deposited thin layer of ZnO in a ligand solution containing ammonium hydroxide as a modulator. The resulting ZIF 2D nanosheet tubular membrane is highly oriented and only 50 nm in thickness. It exhibits excellent molecular sieving performance, with high H2 permeance and selectivity for H2/CO2 separation. This technique shows great promise in MOF nanosheet membrane fabrication for large-scale molecular sieving applications.

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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 21476039 and 21076030). M. T. thanks the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship for a postdoctoral grant. A. J. H. and O. K. F. gratefully acknowledge funding from the U.S. Dept. of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences Program (No. DE-FG02-08ER15967). The authors also thank Professor Huanting Wang from Monash University for further revising the manuscript.

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Li, Y., Lin, L., Tu, M. et al. Growth of ZnO self-converted 2D nanosheet zeolitic imidazolate framework membranes by an ammonia-assisted strategy. Nano Res. 11, 1850–1860 (2018).

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  • nanosheet
  • nanosheet membrane
  • metal organic framework membrane
  • oriented growth
  • gas separation