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For application of polymer nanofibers (e.g., sensors, and scaffolds to study cell behavior) it is important to control the spatial orientation of the fibers. We compare the ability to align and pattern fibers using shear force fiber spinning, i.e. contacting a drop of polymer solution with a rotating collector to mechanically draw a fiber, with electrospinning onto a rotating drum. Using polystyrene as a model system, we observe that the fiber spacing using shear force fiber spinning was more uniform than electrospinning with the rotating drum with relative standard deviations of 18% and 39%, respectively. Importantly, the approaches are complementary as the fiber spacing achieved using electrospinning with the rotating drum was ~10 microns while fiber spacing achieved using shear force fiber spinning was ~250 microns. To expand to additional polymer systems, we use polymer entanglement and capillary number. Solution properties that favor large capillary numbers (>50) prevent droplet breakup to facilitate fiber formation. Draw-down ratio was useful for determining appropriate process conditions (flow rate, rotational speed of the collector) to achieve continuous formation of fibers. These rules of thumb for considering the polymer solution properties and process parameters are expected to expand use of this platform for creating hierarchical structures of multiple fiber layers for cell scaffolds and additional applications.
© 2019 by the authors. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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VCU Chemical and Life Science Engineering Publications