Advanced ceramic materials with a well-defined nano-architecture of their surfaces were formed by applying a two-step procedure. Firstly, a primary amine was docked on the ordered nanotubular ceramic surface via a silanization process. Subsequently, single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) were covalently grafted onto the surface via an amide building block. Physicochemical (e.g., hydrophobicity, and surface free energy (SFE)), mechanical, and tribological properties of the developed membranes were improved significantly. The design, preparation, and extended characterization of the developed membranes are presented. Tools such as high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HR-TEM), single-area electron diffraction (SAED) analysis, microscopy, tribology, nano-indentation, and Raman spectroscopy, among other techniques, were utilized in the characterization of the developed membranes. As an effect of hydrophobization, the contact angles (CAs) changed from 38° to 110° and from 51° to 95° for the silanization of ceramic membranes 20 (CM20) and CM100, respectively. SWCNT functionalization reduced the CAs to 72° and 66° for ceramic membranes carbon nanotubes 20 (CM-CNT-20) and CM-CNT-100, respectively. The mechanical properties of the developed membranes improved significantly. From the nanotribological study, Young’s modulus increased from 3 to 39 GPa for CM-CNT-20 and from 43 to 48 GPa for pristine CM-CNT-100. Furthermore, the nanohardness increased by about 80% after the attachment of CNTs for both types of ceramics. The proposed protocol within this work for the development of functionalized ceramic membranes is both simple and efficient.
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