|[General Info] [Applications] [Electrospinning] [Types]|
Electrospinning is the process most commonly used to produce nanofibers. Electrospinning was first created in the early 1900’s, but little use was found for the process until recently. Now, it is used worldwide for the manufacturing of incredibly small, strong fibers. Although you can’t make nanofibers at your house, electrospinning is a relatively simple procedure. You start out with a syringe, a pipette, a high voltage supply, and a collection plate or screen. You also need the polymer you plan on making the fibers out of.
The first step in creating nanofibers is starting up the high voltage supply. This will electrically charge the polymer and create a jet, which is ejected from the syringe. When the fluid is released, the solvent will evaporate. This leaves behind a charged polymer fiber (your nanofiber) which falls randomly on the collection plate or screen.
However, there is one main problem with today’s electrospinning process. As soon as the charged polymer is ejected and forms a fiber, it tangles randomly and is all but unusable. This problem had baffled scientists for about 70 years, until two Berkeley researchers were able to fix it. In 2006, professors Daoheng Sun and Liwei Lin were able to create nanofibers in an “orderly fashion” in a process they call “near-field electrospinning.” The big difference between near-field electrospinning and normal electrospinning is that the space between the syringe and collection screen is greatly decreased (hence the name near-field). This gives the fibers less time to squirm and tangle, and allows scientists to get straighter, better, and more efficient fibers.