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Inspired by a cotton candy machine, engineers put a new spin on creating tiny nanofibers
Date:5/25/2010

pun, the material stretches much like molten sugar does as it begins to dry into thin, silky ribbons. Just as in cotton candy production, the nanofibers are extruded through a nozzle by a combination of hydrostatic and centrifugal pressure.

The resulting pile of extruded fibers form into a bagel like shape about 10 cm in diameter.

"The new system offers fabrication of naturally occurring and synthetic polymers as well as a lot of control over fiber alignment and web porosity, hierarchical and spatial organization of fibrous scaffold and three-dimensional assemblies," says Badrossamay, a postdoctoral fellow in the Wyss Institute and member of Parker's lab at SEAS.

The researchers tested the new device using a variety of synthetic and natural polymers such as polylactic acid in chloroform, a biodegradable polymer created from corn starch or sugarcane that has been used as eco-friendly alternative to plastic in items like disposable cups.

Moreover, the rapid spinning method provides a high degree of flexibility as the diameter of the fibers can be readily manipulated and the structures can be integrated into an aligned three-dimensional structure or any shape simply by varying how the fibers are collected.

The shape of the fibers can also be altered, ranging from beaded to textured to smooth.

Parker's Disease Biophysics Group (DBG), which has extensive expertise in cardiac tissue engineering, also used the technology to form tissue engineering scaffolds, or artificial structures upon which tissue can form and grow.

Heart tissue from rats was integrated and aligned with the nanofibers, and, as seen in past studies, formed beating muscle.

"I was visiting the Society of Laproscopic Surgeons a couple of years ago to look at the equipment demos and it dawned on me that we needed to develop techniques to miniaturize scaffold production so we could do it in vivo. Our finding is the first step," explains
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Contact: Michael Patrick Rutter
mrutter@seas.harvard.edu
617-496-3815
Harvard University
Source:Eurekalert  

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