A membrane is broadly defined as a discrete interface between two phases that mediates the transfer of chemical species between these phases. Human life relies on naturally occurring membranes (e.g., the cell wall) and man-made membranes are essential to modern life, as we know it. Polymeric membranes enable the production of fresh water from seawater, the purification of therapeutic pharmaceutical compounds, and the separation of nitrogen gas from air.
Man-made membranes are also a novel platform for applications such as chemical sensing, energy generation, and drug delivery. The unique properties of these mass transfer devices arise from the physical structure and chemical functionality of the membranes and their interactions with the permeating chemical species.
Our research in membrane science attempts to understand how the chemistry and nanostructure of polymeric membranes affects the transport of solutes and solvents across the membranes, and to apply this understanding to the development of next generation membranes with novel properties for use in chemical separations at the water-energy nexus, as controlled release devices, and as protective coatings for perishable products.