We report on our use of a thin-layered vertical mesoporous silica thin film (MSTF) with tunable pore size overlaid on an anodic aluminum oxide (AAO) membrane for advancing water purification. The features of ultrathin thickness (about 20 nm), a uniform vertical pore orientation, low tortuosity, high porosity, and a hydrophilic surface endow the MSTF membranes with ultrahigh water permeability compared with that of state-of-The-Art membranes. The modified E-MSTF membrane with a small pore diameter of 2.1 ± 0.1 nm demonstrates superior nanofiltration performance for dye molecules with a cutoff of 520 Da and ultrahigh water permeability of 310 ± 8 L m-2 h-1 bar-1. Furthermore, the precise molecular sieving of dye/salt mixtures was realized with outstanding salt permeation (97.5% NaCl, 96.0% Na2SO4) and a high retention of dye (99.0%). The water permeance and selectivity of the modified E-MSTF membrane are higher than that of reported membranes with similar dye rejections. This work opens up new avenues for constructing tailor-made membranes with tunable pore size and remarkable separation performance.
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