Cation-selective two-dimensional polyimine membranes for high-performance osmotic energy conversion

Zhen Zhang, Preeti Bhauriyal, Hafeesudeen Sahabudeen, Zhiyong Wang, Xiaohui Liu, Mike Hambsch, Stefan C.B. Mannsfeld, Renhao Dong, Thomas Heine, Xinliang Feng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Two-dimensional (2D) membranes are emerging candidates for osmotic energy conversion. However, the trade-off between ion selectivity and conductivity remains the key bottleneck. Here we demonstrate a fully crystalline imine-based 2D polymer (2DPI) membrane capable of combining excellent ionic conductivity and high selectivity for osmotic energy conversion. The 2DPI can preferentially transport cations with Na+ selectivity coefficient of 0.98 (Na+/Cl selectivity ratio ~84) and K+ selectivity coefficient of 0.93 (K+/Cl ratio ~29). Moreover, the nanometer-scale thickness (~70 nm) generates a substantially high ionic flux, contributing to a record power density of up to ~53 W m−2, which is superior to most of nanoporous 2D membranes (0.8~35 W m−2). Density functional theory unveils that the oxygen and imine nitrogen can both function as the active sites depending on the ionization state of hydroxyl groups, and the enhanced interaction of Na+ versus K+ with 2DPI plays a significant role in directing the ion selectivity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3935
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was financially supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 881603, the European Science Foundation (ESF), and the Coordination Networks: Building Blocks for Functional Systems (SPP1928, COORNET), CRC1415, ERC Grants on T2DCP and FC2DMOF (No. 852909). We acknowledge Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste for providing access to its synchrotron radiation facilities and we thank Luisa Barba for assistance in using beamline XRD1. The research leading to this result has been supported by the project CALIPSOplus under Grant Agreement 730872 from the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation HORIZON 2020. Z.Z. acknowledges the support of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • General
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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