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Precise and Ultrafast Molecular Sieving Through Graphene Oxide Membranes

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Science  14 Feb 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6172, pp. 752-754
DOI: 10.1126/science.1245711

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Membranes based on graphene can simultaneously block the passage of very small molecules while allowing the rapid permeation of water. Joshi et al. (p. 752; see the Perspective by Mi) investigated the permeation of ions and neutral molecules through a graphene oxide (GO) membrane in an aqueous solution. Small ions, with hydrated radii smaller than 0.45 nanometers, permeated through the GO membrane several orders of magnitude faster than predicted, based on diffusion theory. Molecular dynamics simulations revealed that the GO membrane can attract a high concentration of small ions into the membrane, which may explain the fast ion transport.