Chunhui Wu, Kexin Zhang, Hongliang Wang, Yaqi Fan, Songwei Zhang, Sanfeng He, Fang Wang, Yu Tao, Xiaowen Zhao, Yue-Biao Zhang, Yanhang Ma, Yongjin Lee, and Tao Li*
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2020, 142, 43, 18503–18512
We report a dual-interfacial engineering approach that uses a sub-20 nm polycrystalline MOF-74 shell as a transition phase to engineer the MOF–polymer interface. The application of a shell MOF layer divides the original single interface problem into two interfaces: MOF–MOF and MOF–polymer, which can be individually addressed. The greater external surface area created by the uneven MOF-74 shell containing high-density open metal sites allows the MOF to interact with 300% polymer at the interface compared to traditional MOF, thereby ensuring good interfacial compatibility. When applied on UiO-66-NH2, its respective mixed-matrix membranes exhibit a simultaneous increase of CO2/CH4 separation selectivity and CO2 permeability with increasing MOF loading, implying a defect-free interface. When applied on MOF-801, the mixed-matrix membranes exhibit an ethylene/ethane separation selectivity up to 5.91, a drastic 76% increase compared to that of the neat polymer owing to a “gas focusing” mechanism promoted by the preferred pore orientation in the MOF-74 layer. This represents one of the most selective ethylene/ethane separation membranes reported to date.