Facilitated Structure Formation in Isoporous Block Copolymer Membranes upon Controlled Evaporation by Gas Flow
AbstractThe conventional fabrication of isoporous membranes via the evaporation-induced self-assembly of block copolymers in combination with non-solvent induced phase separation (SNIPS) is achieved under certain environmental conditions. In this study, we report a modification in the conventional fabrication process of (isoporous) flat sheet membranes in which the self-assembly of block copolymers is achieved by providing controlled evaporation conditions using gas flow and the process is introduced as gSNIPS. This fabrication approach can not only trigger and control the microphase separation but also provides isoporous structure formation in a much broader range of solution concentrations and casting parameters, as compared to fabrication under ambient, uncontrolled conditions. We systematically investigated the structure formation of the fabrication of integral asymmetric isoporous membranes by gSNIPS. A quantitative correlation between the evaporation conditions (causing solvent evaporation and temperature drop) and the self-assembly of block copolymers beginning from the top layer up to a certain depth, orientation of pores in the top layer and the substructure morphology has been discussed empirically.