Direct quantification of negatively charged functional groups on membrane surfaces

Alberto Tiraferri, Menachem Elimelech

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations

Abstract

Surface charge plays an important role in membrane-based separations of particulates, macromolecules, and dissolved ionic species. In this study, we present two experimental methods to determine the concentration of negatively charged functional groups at the surface of dense polymeric membranes. Both techniques consist of associating the membrane surface moieties with chemical probes, followed by quantification of the bound probes. Uranyl acetate and toluidine blue O dye, which interact with the membrane functional groups via complexation and electrostatic interaction, respectively, were used as probes. The amount of associated probes was quantified using liquid scintillation counting for uranium atoms and visible light spectroscopy for the toluidine blue dye. The techniques were validated using self-assembled monolayers of alkanethiols with known amounts of charged moieties. The surface density of negatively charged functional groups of hand-cast thin-film composite polyamide membranes, as well as commercial cellulose triacetate and polyamide membranes, was quantified under various conditions. Using both techniques, we measured a negatively charged functional group density of 20-30nm -2 for the hand-cast thin-film composite membranes. The ionization behavior of the membrane functional groups, determined from measurements with toluidine blue at varying pH, was consistent with published data for thin-film composite polyamide membranes. Similarly, the measured charge densities on commercial membranes were in general agreement with previous investigations. The relative simplicity of the two methods makes them a useful tool for quantifying the surface charge concentration of a variety of surfaces, including separation membranes. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-508
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
Volume389
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes

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