Enhancing the Mechanical Properties of Electrospun Nanofiber Mats through Controllable Welding at the Cross Points.
ABSTRACT: This communication describes a simple and effective method for welding electrospun nanofibers at the cross points to enhance the mechanical properties of their nonwoven mats. The welding is achieved by placing a nonwoven mat of the nanofibers in a capped vial with the vapor of a proper solvent. For polycaprolactone (PCL) nanofibers, the solvent is dichloromethane (DCM). The welding can be managed in a controllable fashion by simply varying the partial pressure of DCM and/or the exposure time. Relative to the pristine nanofiber mat, the mechanical strength of the welded PCL nanofiber mat can be increased by as much as 200%. Meanwhile, such a treatment does not cause any major structural changes, including morphology, fiber diameter, and pore size. This study provides a generic method for improving the mechanical properties of nonwoven nanofiber mats, holding great potential in various applications.
Project description:We report a simple method for the photothermal welding of nonwoven mats of electrospun nanofibers by introducing a near-infrared (NIR) dye such as indocyanine green. By leveraging the strong photothermal effect of the dye, the nanofibers can be readily welded at their cross points or even over-welded (i.e., melted and/or fused together) to transform the porous mat into a solid film upon exposure to a NIR laser. While welding at the cross points greatly improves the mechanical strength of a nonwoven mat of nanofibers, melting and fusion of the nanofibers can be employed to fabricate a novel class of photothermal papers for laser writing or printing without chemicals or toner particles. By using a photomask, we can integrate photothermal welding with the gas foaming technique to pattern and then expand nonwoven mats into 3D scaffolds with well-defined structures. This method can be applied to different combinations of polymers and dyes, if they can be co-dissolved in a suitable solvent for electrospinning.
Project description:Electrospinning can be used to create nanofiber mats for diverse applications, from wound dressings and tissue engineering to filters for medical and biotechnological applications. In most of these applications, it is necessary to fix the nanofiber mat on a macroscopic textile fabric, on another nanofiber mat or within a frame to keep it at the desired position. Due to their extremely low thickness and areal mass, however, nanofiber mats are easily destroyed by sewing, and in several situations glued bonds are too thick and not flexible enough. Here we report on ultrasonic welding of polyacrylonitrile nanofiber mats, suggesting this method as a joining process without destruction of the mat morphology for thermoplastic nanofiber mats. A variety of welding patterns results in different adhesion forces between both joined nanofiber mats and different failure mechanisms, with some welding patterns enabling bonding stronger than the mats themselves. Our findings show that ultrasonic welding is a possible joining method for polyacrylonitrile nanofiber mats.
Project description:Novel biodegradable multiblock copolymers of [PCL-b-P(THF-co-CL)]m with PCL fractions of 53.3 and 88.4 wt % were prepared by Janus polymerization of ε-caprolactone (CL) and tetrahydrofuran (THF). Their electrospun mats were obtained with optimized parameters containing bead-free nanofibers whose diameters were between 290 and 520 nm. The mechanical properties of the nanofiber scaffolds were measured showing the tensile strength and strain at break of 8⁻10 MPa and 123⁻161%, respectively. Annealing improved their mechanical properties and their tensile strength and strain at break of the samples increased to 10⁻13 MPa and 267⁻338%, respectively. Due to the porous structure and crystallization in nanoscale confinement, the mechanical properties of the nanofiber scaffolds appeared as plastics, rather than as the elastomers observed in bulk thermal-molded film.
Project description:Polymeric nanofibers are of great interest in biomedical applications, such as tissue engineering, drug delivery and wound healing, due to their ability to mimic and restore the function of natural extracellular matrix (ECM) found in tissues. Electrospinning has been heavily used to fabricate nanofibers because of its reliability and effectiveness. In our research, we fabricated poly(ε-caprolactone)-(PCL), magnesium oxide-(MgO) and keratin (K)-based composite nanofibers by electrospinning a blend solution of PCL, MgO and/or K. The electrospun nanofibers were analyzed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), mechanical tensile testing and inductively-coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES). Nanofibers with diameters in the range of 0.2-2.2 µm were produced by using different ratios of PCL/MgO and PCL-K/MgO. These fibers showed a uniform morphology with suitable mechanical properties; ultimate tensile strength up to 3 MPa and Young's modulus 10 MPa. The structural integrity of nanofiber mats was retained in aqueous and phosphate buffer saline (PBS) medium. This study provides a new composite material with structural and material properties suitable for potential application in tissue engineering.
Project description:Quantifying the effect that nanofiber mat chemistry and hydrophilicity have on microorganism collection and inactivation is critical in biomedical applications. In this study, the collection and inactivation of Escherichia coli K12 was examined using cellulose nanofiber mats that were surface-functionalized using three polyelectrolytes: poly (acrylic acid) (PAA), chitosan (CS), and polydiallyldimethylammonium chloride (pDADMAC). The polyelectrolyte functionalized nanofiber mats retained the cylindrical morphology and average fiber diameter (~0.84 µm) of the underlying cellulose nanofibers. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and contact angle measurements confirmed the presence of polycations or polyanions on the surface of the nanofiber mats. Both the control cellulose and pDADMAC-functionalized nanofiber mats exhibited a high collection of E. coli K12, which suggests that mat hydrophilicity may play a larger role than surface charge on cell collection. While the minimum concentration of polycations needed to inhibit E. coli K12 was 800 µg/mL for both CS and pDADMAC, once immobilized, pDADMAC-functionalized nanofiber mats exhibited a higher inactivation of E. coli K12, (~97%). Here, we demonstrate that the collection and inactivation of microorganisms by electrospun cellulose nanofiber mats can be tailored through a facile polyelectrolyte functionalization process.
Project description:The objective of this study was to produce antibacterial poly(?-caprolactone) (PCL)-gelatin (GEL) electrospun nanofiber mats containing clove essential oil (CLV) using glacial acetic acid (GAA) as a "benign" (non-toxic) solvent. The addition of CLV increased the fiber diameter from 241 ± 96 to 305 ± 82 nm. Aside from this, the wettability of PCL-GEL nanofiber mats was increased by the addition of CLV. Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis confirmed the presence of CLV, and the actual content of CLV was determined by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Our investigations showed that CLV-loaded PCL-GEL nanofiber mats did not have cytotoxic effects on normal human dermal fibroblast (NHDF) cells. On the other hand, the fibers exhibited antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli. Consequently, PCL-GEL/CLV nanofiber mats are potential candidates for antibiotic-free wound healing applications.
Project description:We have demonstrated a simple and versatile method for generating a continuously graded, bonelike calcium phosphate coating on a nonwoven mat of electrospun nanofibers. A linear gradient in calcium phosphate content could be achieved across the surface of the nanofiber mat. The gradient had functional consequences with regard to stiffness and biological activity. Specifically, the gradient in mineral content resulted in a gradient in the stiffness of the scaffold and further influenced the activity of mouse preosteoblast MC3T3 cells. This new class of nanofiber-based scaffolds can potentially be employed for repairing the tendon-to-bone insertion site via a tissue engineering approach.
Project description:In this study, we exploit the excellent fouling resistance of polymer zwitterions and present electrospun nanofiber mats surface functionalized with poly(2-methacryloyloxyethyl phosphorylcholine) (polyMPC). This zwitterionic polymer coating maximizes the accessibility of the zwitterion to effectively limit biofouling on nanofiber membranes. Two facile, scalable methods yielded a coating on cellulose nanofibers: (i) a two-step sequential deposition featuring dopamine polymerization followed by the physioadsorption of polyMPC, and (ii) a one-step codeposition of polydopamine (PDA) with polyMPC. While the sequential and codeposited nanofiber mat assemblies have an equivalent average fiber diameter, hydrophilic contact angle, surface chemistry, and stability, the topography of nanofibers prepared by codeposition were smoother. Protein and microbial antifouling performance of the zwitterion modified nanofiber mats along with two controls, cellulose (unmodified) and PDA coated nanofiber mats were evaluated by dynamic protein fouling and prolonged bacterial exposure. Following 21 days of exposure to bovine serum albumin, the sequential nanofiber mats significantly resisted protein fouling, as indicated by their 95% flux recovery ratio in a water flux experiment, a 300% improvement over the cellulose nanofiber mats. When challenged with two model microbes Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus for 24 h, both zwitterion modifications demonstrated superior fouling resistance by statistically reducing microbial attachment over the two controls. This study demonstrates that, by decorating the surfaces of chemically and mechanically robust cellulose nanofiber mats with polyMPC, we can generate high performance, free-standing nanofiber mats that hold potential in applications where antifouling materials are imperative, such as tissue engineering scaffolds and water purification technologies.
Project description:Tensile strength, Young's modulus, and toughness of electrospun nylon 6 non-woven fiber mats were improved by increasing individual nanofiber strength and fiber-fiber load sharing. Single-walled carbon nanotubes (CNTs) were used as reinforcement to increase the strength of the electrospun nylon 6 nanofibers. Young's modulus, tensile strength, and toughness of the nylon 6 non-woven fiber mats electrospun from 20 wt % solutions increased 51%, 87%, and 136%, respectively, after incorporating 1 wt % CNTs into the nylon 6 nanofibers. Three methods were investigated to enhance fiber-fiber load sharing: increasing friction between fibers, thermal bonding, and solvent bonding. The addition of beaded nylon 6 nanofibers into the non-woven fiber mats to increase fiber-fiber friction resulted in a statistically significantly increase in Young's modulus over comparable smooth non-woven fiber mats. After annealing, tensile strength, elongation, and toughness of the nylon 6 non-woven fiber mats electrospun from 20 wt % + 10 wt % solutions increased 26%, 28%, and 68% compared to those from 20 wt % solutions. Solvent bonding with formic acid vapor at room temperature for 30 min caused increases of 56%, 67%, and 39% in the Young's modulus, tensile strength, and toughness of non-woven fiber mats, respectively. The increases attributed to increased individual nanofiber strength and solvent bonding synergistically resulted in the improvement of Young's modulus of the electrospun nylon 6 non-woven fiber mats.
Project description:Magnetic nanofibers are of great interest in basic research, as well as for possible applications in spintronics and neuromorphic computing. Here we report on the preparation of magnetic nanofiber mats by electrospinning polyacrylonitrile (PAN)/nanoparticle solutions, creating a network of arbitrarily oriented nanofibers with a high aspect ratio. Since PAN is a typical precursor for carbon, the magnetic nanofiber mats were stabilized and carbonized after electrospinning. The magnetic properties of nanofiber mats containing magnetite or nickel ferrite nanoparticles were found to depend on the nanoparticle diameters and the potential after-treatment, as compared with raw nanofiber mats. Micromagnetic simulations underlined the different properties of both magnetic materials. Atomic force microscopy and scanning electron microscopy images revealed nearly unchanged morphologies after stabilization without mechanical fixation, which is in strong contrast to pure PAN nanofiber mats. While carbonization at 500 °C left the morphology unaltered, as compared with the stabilized samples, stronger connections between adjacent fibers were formed during carbonization at 800 °C, which may be supportive of magnetic data transmission.