Electrospinning is a simple process for making very thin fibers. In principle an syringe pump attached to a small nozzle, a conductive collector, and a high voltage power source in between is enough to turn a liquefied polymer into a nanofiber. The unique features associated with electrospun nanofibers make them attractive for a variety of products and applications in different fields.
Despite the simplicity of the process at first glance, the physics involved is actually rather complex. There are numerous material parameters and processing conditions that affect the electrospinning result. Optimizing all these parameters for a specific application requires in-depth knowledge of – and practical experience with – the electrospinning process. Furthermore, the electrospinning equipment used should provide optimal control over the relevant parameters while keeping interference with the process to a minimum.
Interest in electrospun fibers has increased rapidly over the past decade. At first mainly from a scientific perspective, but nowadays there is also a strong industrial interest in electrospinning nanofibers and their applications, because of the unique characteristics of these ultra-thin fibers, their nanoscale surface area and relatively defect-free molecular structure. These properties open the way towards applications like drug delivery, tissue engineering, air and water filtration, high-performance textiles, photonics and electronics, high-strength fibers and composites, energy storage and conversion and many others.
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A strong driver in the scientific advancement of electrospinning has been the significant research effort in tissue engineering. Electrospinning has proven itself as the technique of choice for making a wide variety of tissue engineering scaffolds. The rising average age of the global population, the rapid progression with electrospun scaffolds and tissue engineering technology and the predicted market size of 27 billion by 2018 make it obvious that electrospinning has a future in the biomedical market.
Electrospraying is variant of electrospinning. The basic difference between these two processes lies in the solution viscosity, producing droplets or a fine aerosol of particles rather then fibers. These droplets can be small down to nanometers, and their charge and size can be controlled by voltage and flow rate. This technique is also applicable with the electrospinning equipment from IME Technologies.
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In the group of Prof. Dr. Christian Clasen from the Department of Chemical Engineering at the KU Leuven in Belgium aims to understand the flow and mass transfer phenomena on the micro-time and micro-dimensional scale…Read more