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Produce polymer nanofibers at greater yield and control

By Scott Jenkins |

New technology for fabricating nanoscale polymer threads boosts yields and improves control compared to conventional methods for producing nanoscale fibers by using a technique analogous to that for making cotton candy. The technology, known as rotary jet spinning (RJS), was developed by engineers at Harvard University (Cambridge, Mass.; www.harvard.edu) and is described in a recent paper in the journal Nano Letters. In RJS, a high-speed rotating nozzle is attached to the shaft of a controllable motor. Rotation propels the polymer solution through a nozzle capillary, and the outward centrifugal force stretches the extruded polymer. Simultaneously, the polymer solvent evaporates, solidifying the material into threads of around 100-nm dia. The extruded fibers then deposit on a circular collector. Nanofiber production output for RJS is “many times greater” than conventional techniques for making nanofibers, such as electrospinning, says Harvard bioengineer Kit Parker, who heads the group where the method was developed. Lead author Mohammad Reza Badrossamy says the RJS system has formed fibers from a variety of synthetic and natural polymers, including polylactic acid in chloroform, gelatin in mild acetic acid and polyethylene…
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