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Mixed-Penetrant Sorption in Ultrathin Films of Polymer of Intrinsic Microporosity PIM-1

Ogieglo, Wojciech, Furchner, Andreas, Ghanem, Bader, Ma, Xiaohua, Pinnau, Ingo, Wessling, Matthias
The Journal of physical chemistry 2017 v.121 no.43 pp. 10190-10197
adsorbents, catalysts, ethanol, hexane, polymers, porous media, refractive index, sorption, spectroscopy
Mixed-penetrant sorption into ultrathin films of a superglassy polymer of intrinsic microporosity (PIM-1) was studied for the first time by using interference-enhanced in situ spectroscopic ellipsometry. PIM-1 swelling and the concurrent changes in its refractive index were determined in ultrathin (12–14 nm) films exposed to pure and mixed penetrants. The penetrants included water, n-hexane, and ethanol and were chosen on the basis of their significantly different penetrant–penetrant and penetrant–polymer affinities. This allowed studying microporous polymer responses at diverse ternary compositions and revealed effects such as competition for the sorption sites (for water/n-hexane or ethanol/n-hexane) or enhancement in sorption of typically weakly sorbing water in the presence of more highly sorbing ethanol. The results reveal details of the mutual sorption effects which often complicate comprehension of glassy polymers’ behavior in applications such as high-performance membranes, adsorbents, or catalysts. Mixed-penetrant effects are typically very challenging to study directly, and their understanding is necessary owing to a broadly recognized inadequacy of simple extrapolations from measurements in a pure component environment.