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!
Transporting spin: A graphene and boron nitride heterostructure creates large spin signals
16.08.2017 | Graphene Flagship
From hot to cold: How to move objects at the nanoscale
10.08.2017 | Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
Researchers from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the Italian Space Agency (ASI), and the Instituto Geofisico--Escuela Politecnica Nacional (IGEPN) of Ecuador, showed an increasing volcanic danger on Cotopaxi in Ecuador using a powerful technique known as Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR).
The Andes region in which Cotopaxi volcano is located is known to contain some of the world's most serious volcanic hazard. A mid- to large-size eruption has...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
16.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
16.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
16.08.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research