PAN ultrafiltration membranes with a rejection size of 400 kDa were obtained from Sterlitech Corporation, and the item number was specified as YMPX3001 (Synder Flat Sheet Membrane). PAN membranes were used in this study as mechanical supports for the H1 active membranes. The procedure for the membrane fabrication is briefly illustrated in Fig. 3A. Homogenized H1 gel contained in a centrifugal tube was centrifuged at a speed of 14 × 103 rpm for 40 min to completely eliminate bubbles trapped in the gel before use. The degassed H1 gel (~5 to 10 mg) was quickly placed on top of a smooth Mylar film (slightly stretched to ensure smoothness), followed by covering by a PAN membrane, with the active PAN layer facing the H1 gel. The Mylar/H1/PAN construct was then sandwiched by two glass plates. Appropriate pressure was applied on the sandwiched construct for 5 min to ensure spreading of the gel on the PAN support. After that, the glass plates were removed and the gel covered by the Mylar film was exposed to a focused spot UV beam for 10 min (100-W Sunspot SM spot curing system at a distance of ∼2.5 cm) in an N2 atmosphere. The Mylar film was then carefully peeled off from the cross-linked H1 membrane.

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