Researchers at the University of Georgia have developed an inexpensive way to manufacture extraordinarily thin polymer strings commonly known as nanofibers. These polymers can be made from natural materials like proteins or from human-made substances to make plastic, rubber or fiber, including biodegradable materials.
The new method, dubbed "magnetospinning" by the researchers, provides a very simple, scalable and safe means for producing very large quantities of nanofibers that can be embedded with a multitude of materials, including live cells and drugs.
Researchers at the University of Georgia have developed an inexpensive way to manufacture nanofibers. The new method, dubbed 'magnetospinning,' provides a very simple, scalable and safe means for producing very large quantities of nanofibers that can be embedded with a multitude of materials, including live cells and drugs.
Credit: Cal Powell/UGA
Many thousands of times thinner than the average human hair, nanofibers are used by medical researchers to create advanced wound dressings--and for tissue regeneration, drug testing, stem cell therapies and the delivery of drugs directly to the site of infection. They are also used in other industries to manufacture fuel cells, batteries, filters and light-emitting screens.
"The process we have developed makes it possible for almost anyone to manufacture high-quality nanofibers without the need for expensive equipment," said Sergiy Minko, study co-author and the Georgia Power Professor of Polymers, Fibers and Textiles in UGA's College of Family and Consumer Sciences. "This not only reduces costs, but it also makes it possible for more businesses and researchers to experiment with nanofibers without worrying too much about their budget."
Currently, the most common nanofiber manufacturing technique--electrospinning--uses high-voltage electricity and specially designed equipment to produce the polymer strings. Equipment operators must have extensive training to use the equipment safely.
"In contrast to other nanofiber spinning devices, most of the equipment used in our device is very simple," Minko said. "Essentially, all you need is a magnet, a syringe and a small motor."
At laboratory scale, a very simple handcrafted setup is capable of producing spools containing hundreds of yards of nanofibers in a matter of seconds. Polymer that has been melted or liquefied in a solution is mixed with biocompatible iron oxide or another magnetic material and placed inside a hypodermic needle. This needle is then positioned near a magnet that is fixed atop a spinning circular platter. As the magnet passes by the tip of the needle, a droplet of the polymer fluid stretches out and attaches to the magnet, forming a nanofiber string that winds around the platter as it continues to spin.
The device can spin at more than 1,000 revolutions per minute, enough time to create more than 50 kilometers--or about 31 miles--of ultra-thin nanofiber.
It's a relatively simple process, but it produces a very high-quality product, said Alexander Tokarev, paper co-author and postdoctoral research associate in Minko's lab.
"The product we can make is just as thin and just as strong as nanofibers created through other methods," he said. "Plus, users don't have to worry about the safety issues of using high voltages or the complexity of other machines."
The researchers can use this method to create a variety of nanofibers simply by changing the polymer placed in the syringe. They can, for example, create specially designed nanofibers that will promote the growth of stem cells. Fibers like these are currently used to create scaffolding for lab-grown tissues and organs.
Nanofibers can also be loaded with proteins, nanotubes, fluorescent materials and therapeutic agents.
"We can use almost any kind of polymer with this platform, and we can tailor make the nanofibers for different applications," Minko said. "It's like cooking. We just change the ingredients a bit, and the kind of fiber we get is very different."
The University of Georgia Research Foundation Inc. has filed a patent application on this new method.
The study is available at http://onlinelibrary.
Sergiy Minko | EurekAlert!
Electron tomography technique leads to 3-D reconstructions at the nanoscale
24.05.2018 | The Optical Society
These could revolutionize the world
24.05.2018 | Vanderbilt University
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences