Investigation of Linear Electrospinning Jets

Knopf, Jeffrey A.
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University of Delaware
Electrospinning, the process of creating polymeric nanofibers through the use of an electric charge, has attracted significant research recently due to the numerous potential applications of the fibers, such as tissue scaffolds, multi-functional composites, filtration devices, and sensors. One major issue with the process is the lack of a functional model that can link processing parameters to final fiber diameter; most developed models are only functional for a specific polymer-solvent system. A newly simplified electrohydrodynamic model has been developed, and has identified important dimensionless groups and scaling regimes controlling the stable portion of an electrospinning jet. The present work studies a novel polymer solvent system, poly(ethylene oxide) – chloroform, with the aim of further testing the newly simplified model for a completely different system through the use of high speed imaging and velocimetry measurements. The poly(ethylene oxide) – chloroform system is unique because of the fact that a completely linear electrospinning jet without a bending instability can be produced. This allows for the collection of a large volume of highly spatially oriented fibers of uniform diameter, which is not normally possible. Experiments revealed that this linear system followed some of the scaling regimes predicted in the model, and also revealed a significant effect of the evaporation rate on the electrospinning process. With the model partially confirmed for a unique system, more testing should be performed in order to potentially validate the model as viable to link processing parameters and solution properties to final fiber diameter.