Reconciling DLVO and non-DLVO Forces and Their Implications for Ion Rejection by a Polyamide Membrane

Yijue Diao, Mengwei Han, Josue A. Lopez-Berganza, Lauren Valentino, Benito Marinas, Rosa M. Espinosa-Marzal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recognizing the significance of surface interactions for ion rejection and membrane fouling in nanofiltration, we revise the theories of DLVO (named after Derjaguin, Landau, Verwey, and Overbeek) and non-DLVO forces in the context of polyamide active layers. Using an atomic force microscope, surface forces between polyamide active layers and a micrometer-large and smooth silica colloid were measured in electrolyte solutions of representative monovalent and divalent ions. While the analysis of DLVO forces, accounting for surface roughness, provides how surface charge of the active layer changes with electrolyte concentration, scrutiny of non-DLVO hydration forces gives molecular insight into the composition of the membrane-solution interface. Importantly, we report an expansion of the diffuse layer at high ionic strength, consistent with the recent development of the electrical double layer theory, but in contrast to the widely accepted phenomenon of aggregation in the secondary minimum. Further, the enhanced repulsion acting on modified membranes via polyelectrolyte adsorption can be quantitatively predicted by DLVO and non-DLVO forces. This work serves to solve past misunderstandings about the interaction forces acting on nanofiltration membranes, and it provides guidance for future work on the relation between surface properties and rejection mechanisms and fouling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8982-8992
Number of pages11
Issue number36
StatePublished - Sep 12 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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