Probing the Internal Microstructure of Polyamide Thin-Film Composite Membranes Using Resonant Soft X-ray Scattering

Tyler E. Culp, Dan Ye, Mou Paul, Abhishek Roy, Michael J. Behr, Steve Jons, Steve Rosenberg, Cheng Wang, Esther W. Gomez, Manish Kumar, Enrique D. Gomez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Characterization of the internal morphology of thin film composite membranes used in reverse osmosis (RO) is a prerequisite for understanding the connection between microstructure and water transport properties and is necessary for the design of membranes with improved performance. Here, we examine a series of fully aromatic polyamide active layers of RO membranes that vary in crosslinking using a combination of resonant soft X-ray scattering (RSoXS), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and atomic force microscopy (AFM). Analysis of RSoXS profiles reveals a correlation between membrane structure and crosslinking density. Through a combination of scattering contrast calculations, TEM, and AFM micrographs, we assign the dominant contribution to RSoXS data as either surface roughness or chemical heterogeneity, depending on the X-ray energy used. Altogether, our results demonstrate the utility of soft X-ray scattering to examine the microstructure of water filtration membranes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)927-932
Number of pages6
JournalACS Macro Letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 21 2018


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry

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