An advanced electrospinning method of fabricating nanofibrous patterned architectures with controlled deposition and desired alignment
Rasel, Sheikh Md
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We introduce a versatile advanced method of electrospinning for fabricating various kinds of nanofibrous patterns along with desired alignment, controlled amount of deposition and locally variable density into the architectures. In this method, we employed multiple electrodes whose potentials have been altered in milliseconds with the help of microprocessor based control system. Therefore, key success of this method was that the electrical field as well as charge carrying fibers could be switched shortly from one electrode’s location to another, as a result, electrospun fibers could be deposited on the designated areas with desired alignment. A wide range of nanofibrous patterned architectures were constructed using proper arrangement of multiple electrodes. By controlling the concurrent activation time of two adjacent electrodes, we demonstrated that amount of fibers going into the pattern can be adjusted and desired alignment in electrospun fibers can be obtained. We also revealed that the deposition density of electrospun fibers in different areas of patterned architectures can be varied. We showed that by controlling the deposition time between two adjacent electrodes, a number of functionally graded patterns can be generated with uniaxial alignment. We also demonstrated that this handy method was capable of producing random, aligned, and multidirectional nanofibrous mats by engaging a number of electrodes and switching them in desired patterns. A comprehensive study using finite element method was carried out to understand the effects of electrical field. Simulation results revealed that electrical field strength alters shortly based on electrode control switch patterns. Nanofibrous polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) scaffolds and its composite reinforced with wollastonite and wood flour were fabricated using rotating drum electrospinning technique. Morphological, mechanical, and thermal, properties were characterized on PVA/wollastonite and PVA/wood flour nanocomposites containing 0, 5, 10, and 20 wt % of fillers. Morphological analyses carried out by digital optical microscope, scanning electron microscopy, x-ray computed tomography, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, confirmed the presence and well dispersion of fillers in the composites. In addition, improvement of mechanical properties with increased filler content further emphasized the adhesion between matrix and reinforcement. PVA with 20 wt % wollastonite composite exhibited the highest tensile strength (11.99 MPa) and tensile module (198 MPa) as compared to pure PVA (3.92 MPa and 83 MPa, respectively). Moreover, the thermal tests demonstrated that there is no major deviation in the thermal stability due to the addition of wollastonite in PVA scaffolds. Almost similar trend was observed in PVA/wood flour nanocomposites where tensile strength improved by 228 % for 20 wt % of reinforcement. The PVA/wollastonite and PVA/wood flour fibrous nanocomposite which poses higher mechanical properties might be potentially suitable for many advanced applications such as filtration, tissue engineering, and food processing. We believe, this study will contribute to further scientific understanding of the patterning mechanism of electrospun nanofibers and to allow for variety of design of specific patterned nanofibrous architectures with desired functional properties. Therefore, this improved scheme of electrospinning can have significant impact in a broad range of applications including tissue engineering scaffolds, filtrations, and nanoelectronics.