A new electron beam-based approach for the direct functionalization of polyethersulfone, polyvinylidene fluoride, polysulfone as well as polyacrylonitrile membranes in a one-step procedure is presented. Aqueous solutions of functional molecules were immobilized on the membrane surface by electron beam treatment. The resulting membranes show significantly increased flux and water wettability accompanied by decreased protein adsorption. Stability tests demonstrated the permanence of the modification. This new method neither requires any preceding surface functionalization nor the use of catalysts/photoinitiators or other toxic reagents. In addition, it avoids the synthesis of hydrophilic monomers/polymers, thus avoiding additional synthetic and purification steps as well as the use of organic solvents.
Keywords: electron beam irradiation, fouling, protein adsorption, surface modification, water