Electrospinning, a nanofiber fabrication method, can produce nanometer- to micrometer-diameter ceramic, polymer, and metallic fibers of various compositions for a wide spectrum of applications: tissue engineering, filtration, fuel cells and lithium batteries. These materials have unique properties because of their high-aspect-ratio morphology and large surface area.
Yet their development has largely been by trial and error, making it difficult to reproduce reliably in industrial settings. This challenge stems from a lack of understanding of the underlying dynamics during the process, which involves more than 10 control parameters.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory is taking the guesswork out of electrospinning by leveraging its unique suite of capabilities to build a database that correlates electrospinning machine parameters with nanofiber properties. The suite will allow companies to design materials optimized for specific applications at top speed, while also making possible real-time feedback and control on the manufacturing floor.