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Title: Bioinspired cellular sheath-core electrospun non-woven mesh
Fibers are valuable to biomedical applications. Used as sutures or meshes, there is an increased dual need to provide functionality such as drug delivery. Porosity represents a high surface area to volume architecture. Coaxial fibers with porous and non-porous layers offer a new design framework for fiber design that can resolve dual needs of mechanical robustness with transport phenomena. Using preferential solubility of a polymer in supercritical CO2, we develop a new architecture using biocompatible polymers based on porous core-sheath fiber fabrication technique. Polycaprolactone was selected as the CO2 miscible phase and Poly(butyrate adipate terephthalate)(PBAT) as the immiscible phase. The mechanical performance of the fibers was investigated using quasi static and dynamic loading. SEM images indicate no physical detachment of the two polymer surface after CO2 exposure indicating a successful amalgamation of polymers at the boundary of core and sheath. PCL as a sheath and as a core showed an increase of 650% and 468% in tensile strength compared to pristine PCL and PBAT. Introduction of porosity on the surface of coaxial fiber fPCL(cPBAT) further enhanced the yield strength increases by 40%. Dynamic mechanical analysis was used to analyze the viscoelastic properties of the fibers. The storage and loss modulus more » for coaxial fibers shows superior modulus throughout the glassy, glass transition and rubbery region as compared to the pristine PCL and PBAT, showing enhancement in both the elastic and viscous response of the material. The results indicate a new approach that is free of volatile organic solvents to manipulate the architecture of the cross-section of the electrospun fiber and tailor mechanical properties to the required application. « less
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Emergent materials
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National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract

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  3. Abstract Poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) is one of the leading biocompatible and biodegradable polymers. However, the mechanical property of PCL is relatively poor as compared with that of polyolefins, which has limited the active applications of PCL as an industrial material. In this study, to enhance the mechanical property of PCL, cellulose nanofibers (C-NF) with high mechanical property, were employed as reinforcement materials for PCL. The C-NF were fabricated via the electrospinning of cellulose acetate (CA) followed by the subsequent saponification of the CA nanofibers. For the enhancement of the mechanical property of the PCL composite, the compatibility of C-NF and PCL was investigated: the surface modification of the C-NF was introduced by the ring-opening polymerization of the ε-caprolactone on the C-NF surface (C-NF-g-PCL). The polymerization was confirmed by the Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. Tensile testing was performed to examine the mechanical properties of the C-NF/PCL and the C-NF-g-PCL/PCL. At the fiber concentration of 10 wt%, the Young’s modulus of PCL compounded with neat C-NF increased by 85% as compared with that of pure PCL, while, compounded with C-NF-g-PCL, the increase was 114%. The fracture surface of the composites was analyzed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). From the SEM images, itmore »was confirmed that the interfacial compatibility between PCL and C-NF was improved by the surface modification. The results demonstrated that the effective surface modification of C-NF contributed to the enhancement of the mechanical property of PCL.« less
  4. This paper utilizes a periodic unit cell modeling technique combined with finite element analysis (FEA) to predict and understand the mechanical behaviors of a nanotechnology-enhanced carbon fiber reinforced polymers (CFRPs) composite. This research specifically focuses on the study of novel Z-threaded CFRPs (ZT-CFRPs) that are reinforced not only by unidirectional carbon fibers but also with numerous carbon nanofibers (CNFs) threading through the CFRP laminate in the z-direction (i.e., through-thickness direction). The complex multi-scaled orthogonally-structured carbon reinforced polymer composite is modeled starting from a periodic unit cell, which is the smallest periodic building-block representation of the material. The ZT-CFRP unit cell includes three major components, i.e., carbon fibers, polymer matrix, and carbon nanofiber Z-threads. To compare the mechanical behavior of ZT-CFRPs against unmodified, control CFRPs, an additional unit cell without CNF reinforcement was also created and analyzed. The unit cells were then meshed into finite element models and subjected to different loading conditions to predict the interaction among all their components. The elastic moduli of both unit-cells in the z-direction were calculated from the FEA data. By assuming the CNFs have the same mechanical properties of T-300 carbon fiber, the numerical modeling showed that the ZT-CFRPs exhibited a 14% improvement inmore »z-directional elastic modulus due to the inclusion of 1 wt% CNF z-threads, indicating that ZT-CFRPs are stiffer compared to control CFRPs consisting of T-300 carbon fibers and epoxy.« less
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