Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium (GRADS)

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2015


Membranes are a tool that can help provide clean water to people. However, treatment of impaired waters exposes the membranes to feed waters containing biological and abiotic species, which leads to fouling and loss of membrane productivity over time. Since flux reduction due to fouling is one of the largest costs associated with membrane processes in water treatment, new coatings that limit fouling would have significant economic and societal impacts. Prior studies in this area largely have focused on chemical modifications to the membrane surface, which can be effective but not sufficient for controlling biofouling. A more recent area of research is nano-patterning the membrane surface, inspired by nature (i.e., shark skin). Our hypothesis is combining these two methods (chemical coating and patterning) will yield membrane surfaces that are more effective at biofouling control than either method alone. We will introduce the methodology used to coat membrane surfaces with polymer nanolayers designed to combat biofouling and the methodology used to pattern membrane surfaces. We will explain the chemical switching mechanism and use FTIR to support the reversible switching of the polymer nanolayer between its antifouling and antimicrobial states. We will demonstrate the feasibility of the patterning methodology through AFM.