Our laboratory focuses on innovation and scientific discovery in the fields of materials science and tissue engineering. Much of our work is in the area of polymer nanofiber manufacturing and processing using an automated track technology that is unique to our group
Post-drawing (elongating) polymer fibers is a critical manufacturing process that is used in conventional fiber manufacturing process. As the fiber length increases, the fiber diameter thins and the long polymer chain molecules align along the fiber axis. This makes post-drawn fiber much stronger than unprocessed fibers. However, it is very difficult post-draw fragile, tiny electrospun nanofibers. Our groups uses a unique dual automated track collector to post-draw electropsun fibers and investigate the process-structure-property relationships.
Mechanical dip drawing is a simple, versatile method to fabricate polymer nanofibers. However, the yield of manual dip drawing is extremely low since each fiber is pulled individually. Our group pioneered a new "Trackspinning" approach that integrates dip drawing with automated tracks to produce polymer fibers within a continuous manufacturing system. This approach could be used to scale up polymer fiber production for a wide variety of materials.
Aligned nanofibers can provide physical guidance cues that orient regenerating axons and accelerate their regrowth. However, tiny, delicate polymer nanofibers are difficult to organize in stable 3D architectures that are ideal for peripheral nerve grafts. Our group is using additive manufacturing technologies to engineer aligned nanofiber/hydrogel composite materials where a hydrogel matrix stabilizes nanofiber architecture, while allowing axon infiltration into the graft. This project is a collaboration with the Vega lab at Rowan University
Zone drawing is a fiber post-drawing approach where a small segment of fiber is heated up to make it pliable. With applied tension, the heated segment will elongate and its diameter will thin. Sequential laser scanning of a fiber can post-draw across its length. Small diameter fibers heat and cool rapidly under laser scanning. Our group is exploring how this rapid heating & cooling during laser zone drawing contributes to fibers with highly aligned polymer chains and enhanced mechanical properties
Centrifugal spinning is a high yield fabrication technique for polymer nanofiber fabrication. Our group integrates centrifugal spinning with automated track collectors to produce highly aligned, post-drawn centrifugal spun nanofibers.
- NSF: RUI: Laser-Zone Drawing and Annealing of High Strength Polymer Nanofibers (2110027)
- NSF: CAREER: Post-Processing Polymer Nanofibers for Improved Mechanical Properties (1653329)
- Army Research Laboratory: Thermosets for Agile Manufacturing (W911NF-17- 2-0227)
- NSF: RUI: Continuous Processing for Improved Properties of Nanofibers (1561966)
- New Jersey Health Foundation: Nanofiber-based Motion Energy Harvesters for Implanted Medical Devices (PC34-16)