An experimental study of ultrafiltration for sub-10nm quantum dots and sub-150 nm nanoparticles through PTFE membrane and Nuclepore filters

Sheng Chieh Chen, Doris Segets, Tsz Yan Ling, Wolfgang Peukert, David Y.H. Pui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Ultrafiltration techniques (pore size of membrane below 100nm) are widely used in chemical engineering, semiconductor, pharmaceutical, food and beverage industries. However, for small particles, which are more and more attracting interests, the pore size often does not correlate well with sieving characteristics of the ultra-membranes. This may cause serious issues during modeling and prediction of retention efficiencies. Herein, a series of liquid filtration experiments with unfavorable conditions were performed. PTFE membranes (50, 100nm) and Nuclepore filters (50, 400nm) were challenged with 1.7nm manganese doped ZnS and 6.6 nm ZnO quantum dots (QDs), 12.4, 34.4 and 50 nm Au and 150 nm SiO2 nanoparticles. For larger and medium sized particles, sieving and eventually pore blockage phenomena were observed. In comparison, for small QDs, a high initial retention efficiency (>0.4) in both filters was monitored, followed by a reduced efficiency with ongoing particle loading. This high initial retention of small nanoparticles was attributed to diffusion deposition rather than to sieving since the ratio of pore size to particle size was significantly high (up to 58). Our experimental results allow a basic understanding of the deposition mechanism of small nanoparticles (diffusion vs. sieving) in different filter structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-161
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Membrane Science
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
S.-C.C., T.-Y.L. and D.Y.H.P. thank the support of members of the Center for Filtration Research: 3M Company, A. O. Smith Corporation, BASF Corporation, Boeing Company, Cummins Filtration Inc., Donaldson Company, Inc., Entegris Inc., Guangxi Wat Yuan Filtration System Co., Ltd., H.B. Fuller Company, Mann+Hummel GmbH, MSP Corporation, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Shigematsu Works Co., Ltd., TSI Inc., W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc., Xinxiang Shengda Filtration Technique Co., Ltd. and the affiliate member National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The authors also thank Dr. Uwe Beuscher and Dr. Wilson Poon for the donation and knowledge support of the Gore membrane filters. D.S. and W.P. acknowledge the funding of the nm pore diameter. Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) through the Cluster of Excellence “Engineering of Advanced Materials” (EXC315) as well as the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs through the Arbeitsgemeinschaft industrieller Forschungsvereinigungen “Otto von Guericke” e.V. (AiF, IGF-Vorhaben Nr. 18037 and KF 2347922UW4 ). Finally, the authors thank Robert Boksznaider and Vishnu Shinha for their contribution to filtration experiments and Stefan Romeis for the assistance of BET analysis for the Gore membrane with 50 Appendix A

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier B.V.


  • Diffusion deposition
  • Loading effect
  • Quantum dot
  • Surface interactions
  • Ultrafiltration


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