Gas permeation through rubbery polymer nano-corrugated membranes

Sci Rep. 2018 Apr 20;8(1):6345. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-24551-4.


The purpose of this investigation is to fabricate PDMS membranes with reliable surface roughness in order to reduce the surface resistances and to study its impact on the permeation rate. The permeance of CO2 through PDMS membranes with rough surfaces at nanoscale is studied and compared with the one of membranes with flat surfaces. At very low thickness, rough membranes have a permeance greater than that of membranes with flat surfaces. The enhancement occurs in a regime where the gas transport is sorption desorption surface rate limited, and cannot be explained by the increase in surface area due to the corrugation. The analysis, introducing a phenomenological model in analogy with electrical flow, indicates that nano-corrugation reduces the surface resistance. To test the model, the permeance of N2 is also measured in the same experimental conditions and the influence of surface roughness on permeation rate of CO2, He, CH4 and N2 is studied. The comparison among the gases suggests that the Henry's coefficient depends on the surface roughness and allows discussing the role of roughness on membrane selectivity.