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Studies on deposition and alignment of electrospun nanofiber assemblies

Lihua Liu, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Electrospinning is an emerging technology producing continuous nanofibers with diameters in the range from several nanometers to microns. The generic process is characterized by massive electrohydrodynamic jet instabilities and results in random nanofiber sheets. Advanced applications of nanofibers in nanotechnological devices and systems will require ordered nanofiber assemblies. This dissertation presents first systematic study of nanofiber deposition and alignment in electrospinning. A generalized numerical model was developed to analyze nanofiber deposition and alignment in static or dynamic electric fields onto stationary or moving substrates. The model was modified and applied to analyze several specific process configuration including nanofiber deposition onto a fast rotating drum, nanofiber alignment in the gap method, and a new method of nanofiber alignment utilizing oscillating secondary field. In each case, numerical models were validated experimentally and used to conduct parametric studies of the effects of process parameters on nanofiber orientation distributions. Mechanisms of misalignment were elucidated and confirmed by high-speed video observations of jets and scanning electron microscopy analysis of nanofiber deposits. The effects of rotating drum speed, gap size, and oscillating secondary field frequency and amplitude on the alignment of nanofiber assemblies were studied numerically and experimentally. New mechanisms of misalignment such as jet looping and residual charges were suggested and analyzed. Optimal process parameters leading to best alignment were identified in several cases. Multiple jet electrospinning important for process scale-up was also studied numerically and experimentally. Interactions of multiple jets were analyzed theoretically and observed using high-speed imaging. Possibility of existence of critical jet spacing in multiple jet systems was discovered and explained for the first time. Finally, load transfer in aligned nanofiber-reinforced composites was analyzed. The results provide better understanding of the electrospinning process and can be used for controlled nanomanufacturing of aligned and ordered nanofiber assemblies that are expected to find use in many advanced nanotechnology systems and devices. The developed set of numerical tools can be further modified and used for analysis and optimization of other process configurations. This work was supported in part by grants to Dr. Y. Dzenis from NSF, DARPA, AFOSR, and ARO/ARL. ^

Subject Area

Engineering, Materials Science

Recommended Citation

Liu, Lihua, "Studies on deposition and alignment of electrospun nanofiber assemblies" (2007). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3296165.