Zeta potential of ion-conductive membranes by streaming current measurements

He Xie, Tomonori Saito, Michael A. Hickner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Surface charge properties have a significant influence on membrane retention and fouling performance. As a key parameter describing the surface charge of membranes used in aqueous applications, zeta potential measurements on membranes of various types have attracted great attention. During the zeta potential characterization of a series of ion-conductive sulfonated poly(sulfone) membranes, it was found that the measured streaming current varied with the thickness of the sample, which is not predicted by the classical Smoluchowski equation. Moreover, for higher conductivity membranes with an increased concentration of sulfonate groups, the zeta potential tended toward zero. It was determined that the influence of membrane bulk conductance on the measured streaming current must be taken into account in order to correctly interpret the streaming current data for ion-conductive polymers and understand the relationship between membrane chemical composition and zeta potential. Extrapolating the measured streaming current to a membrane thickness of zero has proven to be a feasible method of eliminating the error associated with measuring the zeta potential on ion conductive polymer membranes. A linear resistance model is proposed to account for the observed streaming currents where the electrolyte channel is in parallel with the ion-conductive membranes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4721-4727
Number of pages7
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 19 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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