Journal of Materials Research

Outstanding Symposium Papers

Effect of mobile cation on zeolite-polyamide thin film nanocomposite membranes

Mary Laura Lind, Byeong-Heon Jeonga1 p1, Arun Subramania1 p2, Xiaofei Huang and Eric M.V. Hoeka1 c1

a1 UCLA Civil & Environmental Engineering Department, and California NanoSystems Institute, University of California—Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095


Hybrid zeolite-polyamide thin film nanocomposite (TFN) reverse osmosis membranes were synthesized by incorporating Linde type A (LTA)-type zeolite molecular sieve nanocrystals in the interfacial polymerization reaction used to form polyamide thin films. Nanocrystals were prepared with two different mobile cations (Na+ and Ag+) exchanged within the LTA crystal matrix. Incorporation of molecular sieve nanocrystals into polyamide thin films during interfacial polymerization was verified by infrared spectroscopy. Both TFN membranes exhibited higher water permeability, while maintaining similar salt rejection to pure polyamide thin film composite membranes. Nanocomposite thin films containing LTA nanocrystals in the silver form (AgA) produced a greater increase in water permeability than those in the sodium form (NaA). Furthermore, AgA-TFN membranes exhibited more hydrophilic and smooth interfaces, which appeared to inhibit adhesion of bacteria cells onto the membranes. The AgA nanocrystals exhibited significant bactericidal activity; however, when encapsulated within polyamide thin films the antimicrobial activity was significantly reduced.

(Received August 20 2008)

(Accepted December 02 2008)

Key Words:

  • Adhesion;
  • Nanostructure;
  • Polymerization


c1 Address all correspondence to this author. e-mail:

p1 Present address: Hyundai & Kia Motors, 104 Mabuk-Dong, Giheung-Gu, Yongin-Si, Gyeonggi-Do 446-912, Korea.

p2 Present address: MWH, 618 Michillinda Avenue, Suite 200, Arcadia, CA 91007.


This paper was selected as an Outstanding Symposium Paper for the 2007 MRS Fall Meeting, Symposium V.