Membrane based hydrophobic interaction chromatography has gained interest due to its excellent performance in the purification humanized monoclonal antibodies. The membrane material used has typically been commercially available PVDF. Using a microporous membrane as a chromatographic support material is advantageous as one overcomes the adverse effects of hindered pore diffusion observed in resin based chromatography. However lower capacities for membrane adsorbers compared to packed beds remains a significant disadvantage.
We have developed high porosity uniform pore size inverse colloidal crystal (ICC) membranes. Inverse colloidal crystal structures have received extensive attention due to their highly periodic structures, high porosity and fully interconnected pores. Inverse colloidal crystals or inverse opals are produced from colloidal crystals which are long range ordered lattices assembled from polymeric colloids. Here we have investigated the use of ICC membranes as membrane adsorbers. In particular their high porosity as well as their highly interconnected and uniform pore structure will lead to low pressure drop and uniform flow through the membrane, both of which are highly desirable for membrane adsorbers. In addition, the presence of a high membrane porosity results in a high surface area for solute binding. The capacity of the ICC membranes developed here is up to 10 times greater than commercially available PVDF membranes with a similar pore size. This work highlights the importance of engineering the membrane pore structure in order to maximize capacity.