Research Highlights

Professor Dong Sung Kim’s Electrolyte-assisted Electrospinning Featured in Advanced Materials

2015-07-29 302

A research team comprised of Prof. Dong Sung Kim and Sang Min Park from the Department of Mechanical Engineering has developed a novel fabrication technique, called electrolyte-assisted electrospinning (ELES), for a self-assembled, free-standing nanofiber membrane. The research outcome was featured on the Inside Cover of the renowned international journal Advanced Materials.
Nanofiber membranes have attracted substantial interests in recent years due to their large surface area, high surface to volume ratio, and porosity. These advantages have expanded their applications to sensors, filtration, catalysis, textiles and drug delivery. Given that their structural geometries are analogous with native extracellular matrix existing in human body, they have been employed in biomedical applications. However, electrospinning process, which is widely used for the fabrication of nanofibers, has only produced a nanofiber membrane adhered to a metal surface which limited the use of permeable property of the membrane in various fields. This is because fabricated nanofibers were collected on a metal surface, and interwoven into a membrane on the surface.
The team introduced an electrolyte collector in the electrospinning process instead of a metal collector. The fluidic nature of the electrolyte collector enabled a micro-scale patterned free-standing nanofiber membrane integrated with desired substrates from a two-dimensional flat surface to three-dimensional curved geometry. They also confirmed the structural integrity and performance of the free-standing nanofiber membrane integrated with a microfluidic device, which will have a broad impact in many areas including biosensors, chemical synthesis, and clinical diagnostics. The fabricated free-standing nanofiber membrane can also show great potential in the fields of tissue scaffolds and organ-on-a-chip, given that free-standing fibrous membranes (e.g. basement membrane) play a critical role in natural systems such as human-organs.
Prof. Kim emphasized “This research brought forward the fabrication of free-standing nanofiber membrane on a curved surface without complicated steps, and expected to stimulate extensive progress in the field of tissue-engineering and bio-medical applications”.
This research was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIP) (No. 2014R1A2A1A01006527 and 2011-0030075), and by the convergence technology development program for Bionic Arm through the National Research Foundation of Korea(NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (No. 2014M3C1B2048632).