POLYMER SCIENCE

Whipped, not Splayed

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Science  16 Mar 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5511, pp. 2051
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5511.2051b

Polymer fibers formed by extrusion or gel spinning, in which the polymer is deformed by mechanical processes, usually are larger than 1 micrometer in diameter, but thinner fibers can be made by using electrical fields. A fluid reservoir containing polymer melt or solution is charged, and then a fluid jet is accelerated through an electric field gradient and collected on a grounded plate. It was thought that the very thin fibers were produced when the primary fluid jet split into multiple filaments in a process called splaying.

Shin et al. use high-speed photography to show that a whipping instability rapidly bends and stretches the fluid jet. What had appeared to be splaying was instead multiple images of the single strand as it whipped back and forth. It is envisioned that the non-woven meshes that are formed by the process will be used as membranes, filters, composite reinforcements, and tissue engineering scaffolds. — MSL

Appl. Phys. Lett.78, 1149 (2001).

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