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Improving Dialysis Process with Graphene

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Researchers from Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Departments of MIT recently showed that graphene is a powerful material candidate for use in the dialysis systems (such as hemodialysis machines in medical institutes for filtering human blood). In order to prepare graphene as a dialysis material, researchers used a procedure opposite to the general treatments that nanotechnology people use.

Dialysis is a process of filtering different solutions such as human blood by a membrane in order to remove waste molecules, drugs, chemical residues from the solution. In some cases, the process can be used for purification of chemicals or isolation of different molecules for medical diagnosis. It is an essential process for scientists especially in the medical operations.

Image Retrieved From: http://www.graphene-nownano.manchester.ac.uk/our-research/examples-of-current-projects/fundamental-science/use-of-graphene-as-bio-membrane/

The traditional membranes used in dialysis are thick materials. They make dialysis process run very slow because their dense and thick structure prevent quick pass of the molecules through the membranes. Piran Kidambi and his group from MIT produced ultrathin graphene sheets ( thickness <1 nm, 20 times thinner than the thinnest commercial membrane present) as membranes and tested these membranes in dialysis conditions. Test results revealed that graphene based membranes could filter out desired molecules 10 times faster than today’s dialysis membranes.

Kidambi’s group prepared the membranes using a different route. They synthesized graphene sheets with a conventional chemical vapor deposition process. After that, they treated graphene sheets with oxygen plasma to create pores with various sizes which was the opposite of general route to prepare perfect and defect-free graphene structures that most of the scientists try to achieve. The first membrane production processes yielded with graphene membranes with very small surface area, but scientists plan to produce larger commercial graphene membranes by optimization of production procedure.

Link: http://news.mit.edu/2017/scientists-produce-dialysis-membrane-made-from-graphene-0628

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