Electrospinning is a process that produces nanofibers through the generation of an electrically charged jet of polymer solution or polymer melt. This technique allows the creation of continuous fibers with diameters ranging from a few micrometers to tens of nanometers from a broad range of materials such as polymers, composites and ceramics. In electrospinning, solid fibers are generated as the electrified jet (composed of a highly viscous polymer solution) is continuously elongated as a result of the electrostatic repulsions between the surface charges and the evaporation of solvent. This technique is under constant development and one of the most attractive extensions is coaxial electrospinning where two concentrically aligned nozzles are used to form core-shell nanofibers.
The increased interest in electrospinning is because it makes it possible to produce polymer nanofibers under laboratory conditions. Many biological polymers, synthetic polymers and blends have been processed into nanofibers by electrospinning. Electrospun polymer fibers and nonwovens have several applications: filters, smart textiles, protective clothing, templates, catalysis process, sensors, functional materials, composite reinforcement, cosmetics, medicine (tissue engineering, transport and release of drugs, tumour therapy, wound healing, artificial blood vessels, inhalation therapy), energy and electronics (batteries/cells and capacitors). Furthermore, electrospun materials have already been commercialized for several applications.
Our research interests span over a broad range of applications and we use electrospinning to produce nanofibers for biomedical (e.g. tissue engineering and drug delivery), technological (e.g. organic electronics and photovoltaic) and industrial (e.g. filtration) uses.
Moreover, our recent study on hydrogels will result in the development of the first method capable of producing one-dimensional hydrogel nanostructured materials by using post electrospinning free radical polymerization.