Researchers present new technique of nanofiber production
UGA researchers in the Nanostructured Materials Laboratory have proposed a faster, more efficient and scalable method of production of nanofibers that may have implications on tissue engineering, nonwoven textiles for personal care and biosensors. When coupled with stem cells, nanofibers, tiny threads of polymers, have the ability to help form bones, tissues and nerve cells.
Most current methods of nanofiber production, such as electrospinning, have limitations when used for larger-scale manufacturing. An alternative can be seen in the “touch-and-brush-spinning” technique, using just a polymer solution and a brush that is similar to a hairbrush.
During this process, a “hairbrush” is suspended above a polymer solution and spins, drawing nanofibers along with it. For example, a small size brush with 600 filaments on it creates 600 individual fibers that can span 100 kilometers in minutes.
The research was conducted in the Nanostructured Materials Laboratory led by Sergiy Minko, the Georgia Power Professor of Fiber and Polymer Science within the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.
Graduate students in the NSML, Darya Asheghali and Alexey Gruzd, former postdoctoral research associate Alex Tokarev and others within the department of chemistry also were involved in the project.
“The goal is that any medical facility can have this device and train people how to use it,” Tokarev said. “The big goal is to have this (device) to be used to produce artificial organs in a very simple and low-cost way for personalized medical applications.”
The user can control the size of the fibers and can even create different shapes of tissue scaffolds with it, Tokarev said. This versatility could work wonders for health care providers with further research, he added. For example, with this device users could create artificial blood vessels which can then be implanted in patients to restore adequate blood circulation.
The simple device is also comparatively cheap. It takes approximately $50-$100 to create nanofibers with this method compared to other complicated setups, which can range from $10,000-$20,000.
“We have already shown that we can spray cells (onto fibers) and cells grow in the 3-D scaffold, so we have confirmed this is possible,” Tokarev said.
The study was published in the November issue of Advanced Materials.