Single-walled metal oxide nanotubes and nanotube membranes for molecular separations
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Synthetic single-walled metal oxide (aluminosilicate) nanotubes (SWNTs) are emerging materials for a number of applications involving molecular transport and adsorption due to their unique pore structure, high surface reactivity, and controllable dimensions. In this thesis, I discuss the potential for employing SWNTs in next generation separation platforms based upon recent progress on synthesis, interior modification, molecular diffusion properties, transport modeling and composite membrane preparation of metal oxide SWNTs. First, I describe the structure, synthesis, and characterization of the SWNTs. Thereafter, chemical modification of the nanotube interior is described as a means for tuning the nanotube properties for molecular separations. Interior functionalization of SWNTs (e.g. carbon nanotubes and metal oxide nanotubes) is a long-standing challenge in nanomaterials science. After controlled dehydration and dehydroxylation of the SWNTs, I then demonstrate that the SWNT inner surface can be functionalized with various organic groups of practical interest via solid-liquid heterogeneous reactions. Finally, I describe a mass transport modeling and measurements for composite membranes composed of SWNTs as fillers. This work demonstrates the use of SWNTs for novel scalable separation units from both a nanoscale and a macroscale point of view.