Bioinspired and biomimetic membranes for water purification and chemical separation: A review

Elham Abaie, Limeimei Xu, Yue xiao Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Bioinspired and biomimetic membranes that contain biological transport channels or attain their structural designs from biological systems have been through a remarkable development over the last two decades. They take advantage of the exceptional transport properties of those channels, thus possess both high permeability and selectivity, and have emerged as a promising solution to existing membranes. Since the discovery of biological water channel proteins aquaporins (AQPs), extensive efforts have been made to utilize them to make separation membranes-AQP-based membranes, which have been commercialized. The exploration of AQPs’ unique structures and transport properties has resulted in the evolution of biomimetic separation materials from protein-based to artificial channel-based membranes. However, large-scale, defect-free biomimetic membranes are not available yet. This paper reviews the state-of-the-art biomimetic membranes and summarizes the latest research progress, platform, and methodology. Then it critically discusses the potential routes of this emerging area toward scalable applications. We conclude that an appropriate combination of bioinspired concepts and molecular engineering with mature polymer industry may lead to scalable polymeric membranes with intrinsic selective channels, which will gain the merit of both desired selectivity and scalability. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Article number124
JournalFrontiers of Environmental Science and Engineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Aquaporins
  • Artificial water channels
  • Biomimetic membranes
  • Chemical separation and water purification


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