Polymer microfibers play an important role in spring’s hottest apparel item, N95 masks. When applied as a nonwoven mat, such fibers can make an effective but breathable filter material. In this video, researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology are working on a method to control the size and the coiling of the fiber. An ethanol solution of poly(ethylene oxide) precursors flows through a microfluidic funnel into a channel where it meets silicone oil flowing in the same direction. The ethanol diffuses into the silicone oil, leaving behind solid poly(ethylene oxide) fiber. By controlling the relative flow rates, the researchers were able to change the diameter of the fiber and go from a loose, chaotic wad of polymer to a tight, ordered coil.
Credit: Langmuir 2020, DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.9b03246
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