A uniquely structured membrane produced by Lin Zhang’s team from Zhejiang University was shown to be an effective filter. A “Turing structure”, named after the well-known mathematician Alan Turing who laid the mathematical groundwork behind this process, is a structure produced by a process involving two substances that diffuse at different rates while reacting with another. Zhang’s team arrived at the membrane structure in its attempt to create a 3D Turing structure.
The process used by Zhang involved the substances trimesoyl chloride and piperazine, which had two varying diffusion rates. Zhang succeeded in properly carrying out the process by adding polyvinyl alcohol to the piperazine to further amplify the difference in diffusion. While the resulting structures verified the predictions made by Turing’s work, they also had the functionality of water filters. The team reported successful filterings of saline solutions by 50%, solutions of magnesium chloride by 90%, and solutions of Epsom salt by 99%. The filter requires relatively low pressures, boasting a potential threefold increase in speed compared to commercial filters.