Investigating the particle to fibre transition threshold during electrohydrodynamic atomization of a polymer solution

Research paper by O. Husain, W. Lau, M. Edirisinghe, M. Parhizkar

Indexed on: 29 Mar '16Published on: 24 Mar '16Published in: Materials Science and Engineering: C


Electrohydrodynamic atomization (EHDA) is a key research area for producing micro and nano-sized structures. This process can be categorized into two main operating regimes: electrospraying for particle generation and electrospinning for fibre production. Producing particles/fibres of the desired size or morphology depends on two main factors; properties of the polymeric solution used and the processing conditions including flow rate, applied voltage and collection distance. In this work the particle-fibre transition region was analyzed by changing the polymer concentration of PLGA poly (lactic-co-glycolic acid) in acetone between 2 and 25 wt%. Subsequently the processing conditions were adjusted to study the optimum transition parameters. Additionally the EHDA configuration was also modified by adding a metallic plate to observe the deposition area. The diameter and the distance of the plate from the capillary tip were adjusted to investigate variations in particle and fibre morphologies as well. It was found that complete transition from particles to fibres occurs at 20 wt% indicating concentration to be the dominant criterion. Low flow rates yielded fibres without beads. However the applied voltage and distance between the tip of the nozzle jetting the polymer solution and collector (working distance) did not yield definitive results. Reducing the collector distance and increasing applied voltages produces smooth as well as beaded fibres. Addition of a metal plate reduces particle size by ~ 1 μm; the fibre size increases especially with increasing plate diameter while bead density and size reduces when the disc is fixed closer to the capillary tip. Additionally, the deposition area is reduced by 70% and 57% with the addition of metal plates of 30 mm and 60 mm, respectively. The results indicate that a metal plate can be utilized further to tune the particle/fibre size and morphology and this also significantly increases the yield of EHDA process which is currently a limitation in adopting it as a mass production technique.

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