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Ultrafast Viscous Permeation of Organic Solvents Through Diamond-Like Carbon Nanosheets

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Science  27 Jan 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6067, pp. 444-447
DOI: 10.1126/science.1212101

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Porous Membranes

Thin semi-permeable membranes are commonly used as chemical barriers or for filtration purposes. While the size of the pores will influence which molecules are able to pass, other factors—including the surface chemistry of the pore walls, electrostatic interactions, and differences in solubility—can also affect the diffusion rates. There is also a trade-off between the thickness of the membrane regarding strength and permeation rates (see the Perspective by Paul). Karan et al. (p. 444) fabricated membranes from amorphous carbon, which showed excellent strength and could be used for filtrations involving organic solvents. Nair et al. (p. 442) observed unusual behavior in graphene-based membranes which were able to prevent the diffusion of many small-molecule gases, including helium, but showed almost barrier-free movement of water.