Controlling the physical properties of interfacial polymerization (IP) plays a crucial role in tailoring the structures and properties of thin-film composite (TFC) membranes. However, due to the instantaneity and complexity of the IP reaction, it is challenging to determine the mechanism of the process and establish the connection between the synthesis-structure-performance. For the first time, novel characterization techniques that researchers have employed to visualize the IP reaction in real-time and several classical theoretical models for computer simulations of the IP process are discussed to reveal the intrinsic mechanisms of the IP process from the microscopic perspective. Furthermore, this paper also illustrates the latest effective strategies of IP technology to regulate the permeability and selectivity of membranes from a macroscopic perspective. The above discussion is vital to illustrate the synthesis-structure-performance relationships of TFC membranes, and is conducive to breaking the trade-off effect between permeability and selectivity. Finally, we highlight the potential and challenges of using the IP technology to synthesize TFC membranes for targeted separation applications. This review addressed the urgent need for comprehensive research on the IP process and provides a strong foundation for the advancement and improvement of polyamide (PA) membranes.

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