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Practical Applications Of Polymer Electrospinning Technology

1785 words - 7 pages

Electrospinning is a method for the generation of nanofibers. It uses an electrical charge to produce fibers from a polymer solution or melt. It’s a process that has been around for some time. The first recordable observation of electrospraying, a similar process, was made by William Gilbert in the late 1500s. Electrospinning as we know it today was described in a 1902 patent (US 62631) by J. F. Cooley [1]. His patent was entitled “Apparatus for Electrically Dispersing Fibers”. Since the early 1990s interest in Electrospinning has increased substantially as evident by the rapidly increasing number of publications [2].
During the Electrospinning process, an electrical charge is used to draw a micro or nanoscale fiber from a polymer solution or melt. Figure 1, shown below, is an illustration of the typical Electrospinning setup. In this setup a high voltage is applied to the end of a spinneret in order to provide a charge to the polymer solution or melt. As the liquid becomes charged, a jet of liquid streams from the liquid surface at a point known as the Taylor cone. The liquid jet dries or solidifies in flight before being collected on a grounded collector [3].

Figure 1: Common Electrospinning Setup [3]
The increase in the interest of Electrospinning technology has been mainly driven by the biomedical field for the following reasons: Nanofibers have a high surface, scaffolds created from nanofibers can be used to emulate structures found in nature, and porous nanofiber matrices make it accessible to various chemical species [3]. It is also a readily scalable technique that can be used with a variety of materials.
For the MSE 5350 presentation this year my partner and I presented on the “Sustained drug release and antibacterial activity of ampicillin incorporated poly(methyl methacrylate) enylon6 core/shell nanofibers” by A. Sohrabi et al. In this paper nanofibers were created by Coaxial Electrospinning in order to characterize a controlled drug release system. A. Sohrabi et al. were able to investigate the materials structure through Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). They also developed models to characterize the diffusion of the active pharmaceutical ingredient Ampicillin from the nanofiber material and its effectiveness against the Listeria innocua. During the question and answer session the topic of additional applications of this technology came up. My response, based on the limited research that I had done at the time, was wound dressing and oral drugs. The purpose of this paper is to explore the potential application of the Electrospinning technology as it applies to polymers that are both commercially available and on the way to being commercially available.
It turns out that the applications are practically limitless. A majority of the work done with Electrospinning prior to the 1990s focused on textiles and filtration, but for the purposes of this paper I will briefly explore different...

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