Swiss Made Ultra-Thin Breathable Membrane

Ultra-Thin Breathable Membrane for Super-Light Waterproof Clothing

A new graphene membrane produced by researchers at ETH Zurich and Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories of Materials Science and Technology, opens doors to extremely light waterproof clothing fabric, as well as ultra-rapid filtration.


Illustration of the two-layered graphene membrane (grey honeycomb structure) with molecules (blue).
(c) Ben Newton / ETH Zurich

The research team led by Hyung Gyu Park of the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering at ETH Zurich has produced a stable porous membrane that is thinner than one nanometer. The membrane consists of two layers of graphene, a two-dimensional honeycomb-like film made of carbon atoms. To define the permeability of the membrane, the researchers used focused ion beam (FIB) to precisely shoot tiny pores.

Furthermore, the researchers were able to demonstrate for the first time ever this graphene membrane is suitable for water filtration, since it is able to withstand pressure gradients of up to 2 atmospheres. Hence, this type of membrane could potentially be used to separate gaseous mixtures into their constituents or to filter impurities from fluids.

“With a thickness of just two carbon atoms, this is the thinnest porous membrane that is technologically possible to make,” said PhD student Jakob Buchheim in a press release by ETH News about these results published in the journal Science.

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