Crank Out Those Nanofibers…Faster, Faster!

Our engineers are devising ways to produce nanofibers at an “accelerated” pace.  Sound familiar?

Collections of nanofibers, because they are porous and lightweight, are useful in applications ranging from water filtration to tissue regeneration to energy storage. But although nanofibers are relatively inexpensive to produce, the current method of production – needle electrospinning – is time-intensive.

In electrospinning, a liquid-polymer solution is passed through a hypodermic needle held at high voltage. The needle transfers electric charge, which transforms the solution into a jet of charged liquid that “spins” into a nanofiber as it exits the needle. Unfortunately, this method of production does not lend itself to large-scale manufacturing processes.

NC State physicists Laura Clarke and Jason Bochinski, textile engineer Russell Gorga and graduate student Nagarajan Thoppey found a particularly simple technique that scales up nanofiber production and provides a close connection to the needle electrospinning method.

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