Two-Dimensional Membrane and Polymers

Case ID:

The King Research Group, led by Benjamin King, at the University of Nevada, Reno Chemistry Department is interested in the chemistry of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHS), liquid crystals, and advanced polymers. The group takes a physical organic approach involving methods from synthetic, mechanistic, computation, theoretical, polymer, and organometallic chemistry.

Technology Summary
With a production of more than 200 millions of tons per year, synthetic polymers are widely used materials and can be found in many consumer products including Teflon in non-stick pans, money, and super glue. Synthetic polymers are typically composed of linear repeat units, and may also be branched or irregularly cross-linked. Graphene (carbon sheets that are one atom thick) is a well-known example of a two-dimensional polymer (2DP) and is used in many fields including biological engineering, optical electronics, photovoltaic cells, and energy storage. Graphene’s synthesis excludes molecular design on demand, and currently, sheet-like polymers that have been referred to as 2DPs are extremely thin and lack internal order in their network structure.

The UNR research group has synthesized an ordered, non-equilibrium 2DP far beyond molecular dimensions. The UNR 2DP method is related to one of two main approaches to synthesizing 2DPs, and involves the physical exfoliation of a crystal turning layers to single sheets. While the traditional approach is usually prepared in a simultaneous reaction and crystallization process (the bonds are made while the crystal forms), the UNR approach separates crystallization and bond formation by relying on an initial crystallization that isolates individual 2DPs as free-standing, monolayered molecular sheets. The sheets are considered free-standing because of their considerable mechanical stability apparent by the sheets’ ability to withstand the sheer forces imposed on them during the exfoliation process.

The UNR 2DP can be tuned for particular applications. It has a molecular thinness of 1.5nm and a high pore density useful for selective inclusion or filtration of small molecules. The atomically smooth pores will give ultra-high flux, and because the pores are chemically identical, the 2DP gives precise cut-off. Due to the free-standing, sheet-like features of the polymers, they can ultimately serve as a platform for bottom-up three-dimensional constructions by wrapping, covering, rolling, folding, and stacking.

Potential Applications
Based on potential applications for graphene:

  • Desalination

  • Gas separation (CO2 removal)

  • Nanofiltration

  • Lightweight, thin, flexible display screens

  • Frequency multiplier

  • Optical modulators

  • Biodevices

  • Electric circuits

  • Solar cells

  • Ethanol distillation

  • Single-molecule gas detection

UNR is seeking expressions of interest from parties interested in collaborative research to further develop, evaluate, or commercialize this technology.

IP Status
Two-Dimensional Polymer from the Anthracene Dimer and Triptycene Motifs US Patent No.: Patent Pending


Nature Publication

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Shannon Sheehan
Manager, Technology Commercialization
University of Nevada, Reno
Benjamin King
A. Dieter Schluter
Junji Sakamoto