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Electrospinning

Introduction
In 1934, a process was patented by Formhals [1-3], wherein an experimental setup was outlined for the production of polymer filaments using electrostatic force. When used to spin fibers this way, the process is termed as electrospinning. In the electrospinning process a high voltage is used to create an electrically charged jet of polymer solution or melt, which dries or solidifies to leave a polymer fiber [4, 5]. One electrode is placed into the spinning solution/melt and the other attached to a collector. Electric field is subjected to the end of a capillary tube that contains the polymer fluid held by its surface tension. This induces a charge on the surface of the liquid. Mutual charge repulsion causes a force directly opposite to the surface tension [6]. As the intensity of the electric field is increased, the hemispherical surface of the fluid at the tip of the capillary tube elongates to form a conical shape known as the Taylor cone [7]. With increasing field, a critical value is attained when the repulsive electrostatic force overcomes the surface tension and a charged jet of fluid is ejected from the tip of the Taylor cone. The discharged polymer solution jet undergoes a whipping process [8] wherein the solvent evaporates, leaving behind a charged polymer fiber, which lays itself randomly on a grounded collecting metal screen. In the case of the melt the discharged jet solidifies when it travels in the air and is collected on the grounded metal screen.

Apparatus
An example of one experimental set up used for electrospinning is shown in Fig. 1

The driving force is provided by a high voltage source through a wire immersed in the solution. linear etc. Flow rate & Concentration Distance between the capillary and collection screen Ambient parameters (temperature. capillary-screen distances (12-27 cms) and flow rates (3-7 ml/h). usually a pipette that is connected to a syringe like apparatus.) of the polymer Solution properties (viscosity. 2 shows the effect of capillary-screen distance (C-SD) on 15-wt % Estane (in DMAc) that were electrospun at 10kV and 3ml/h. Fig. N-dimethylene acetamide) that were electrospun at different voltages (10-15 kV). FESEM (Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy) was performed on these samples. The high voltage source can generate up to 30 kV. such as wound dressing in medical industry. tissue engineering scaffolds and artificial blood vessels. electric potential at the tip and flow rate. capillaryscreen distance (C-SD). conductivity & and surface tension) Process Parameters: Electric potential. humidity and air velocity in the chamber) Motion of target screen Applications An important characteristic of electrospinning is the ability to make fibers with diameters in the range of manometers to a few microns. for filtration of submicron particles in separation industries and biomedical applications [9]. The above description of the process suggests that the following parameters affect the process: Process Parameters System Parameters: Molecular Weight. . Adjusting the flow of the fluid and the magnitude of the electric field controls the spinning rate. and the setup can be run on either positive or negative polarity. The electrospun samples were collected on a stainless steel mesh (count 20x20) and later sputtered-coated with a 5 nm Pt layer. we conducted electrospinning at different conditions.The polymer solution or melt is contained in a glass tube. The parameters studied were concentration. Experimental Results To investigate the effects of some of the key process parameters. A metering pump attached to the plunger of the syringe generates a constant pressure and flow of the fluid through the pipette. The use of electrospun fibers at critical places in advanced composites to improve crack resistance is also promising. Different concentrations (15-25 wt %) of Estane® 5750 (a segmented polyether urethane supplied by Goodrich) were prepared in DMAc (N. Molecular-Weight Distribution and Architecture (branched. Consequently these fibers have a large surface area per unit mass so that nanowoven fabrics of these nanofibers collected on a screen can be used for example.

electric potentials and flow rates.Distinct bead like structures can be seen in the FESEM micrographs. With increasing concentration of the polymer solution (keeping other . Comparing Figures 2 & 3. This is true for fibers spun at different concentrations. It can also be seen that with increasing capillary-screen distance (C-SD). the average fiber diameter decreases. 3 shows the FESEM pictures of 20-wt% Estane (in DMAc) that were electrospun at 10 kV and 3 ml/h. it can be inferred that the bead like structure is predominant at lower concentrations. Fig.

A noticeable feature that shows up is the marked Fracture points . with increasing capillaryscreen distance (C-SD) the average fiber diameter decreases. These Fracture points were also observed in fibers electrospun from 20-wt% Estane (in DMAc) at higher flow rates (7 ml/h). 20 wt% Estane. With increasing electric potential (keeping other parameters constant). blobs are observed (12 cm. instead of undergoing drawing. 4 shows FESEM micrographs of 25-wt % Estane (in DMAc) that were electrospun at 10 kV & 3ml/h. This results due the solution being too viscous that it resists any deformation during the whipping process and breaks. At lower capillary-screen distances. . Fig. the fiber diameter decreases as is shown in Fig.parameters constant) the average fiber diameter increases. Figure 3) that should not be mistaken as beads. 5. At high concentrations (25 wt %) and flow rates (7 ml/h) a broad distribution of fiber diameter was observed. Similar trends were observed at higher concentrations. Again.

With increasing electric potential. the polymer jet is discharged with a greater electrostatic repulsion that causes it to undergo higher levels of drawing stress. flow rate & concentration becomes increasingly difficult. Hence the control of the process at high electric potential. . 6 summarizes the effects of the different process parameters. at higher electric potential (~ 15 kV) the fiber diameter distribution becomes increasing broader. This results in the decrease of the fiber diameter. Fig. However.

To obtain a uniform fiber diameter web. L. 4. it can be suggested that the electrospinning of Estane® 5750 be conducted at lower electric potential (~10kV). J..504 (1934). H. 1. Wnek. 2. Soc. 39(5). X. 32nd . 9955 (2001) 9. Formhals. E. & Reneker. G. 306 (1940).. Stitzel.. Brenner. References 1. Bowlin. A. Kim. Proc.. 5. M. Mansfield. & Rutledge. Y... Taylor. & Reneker. lower flow rates (~ 3ml/h) and concentration around 20 wt%... 6. May. Polymer. A. Sci-Phys. 7.M. J-S. Roy. D. J. D..975. K. C. & Sci. H. J & Reneker. & Simpson.. 8. 849 (1999). US Patent. D. 2. 42. 169 (1997). A313. I. 453 (1969). Proc. M. Shin. G. D. Macromol... Polymer Eng. Doshi. of Electrostat. Formhals.H. G. Hohman.. 2. B36(2). G. London... G.187. US Patent. Fang. 35.. M. Formhals. D.. P. 3.962 (1939).160. A. J. US Patent. 151 (1995).

Nov (2000).SAMPE Meeting. . Boston.