Polymer Science Faculty Research


Water absorption and mechanical properties of electrospun structured hydrogels

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Electrospun nanofibers are made when electrostatic forces overcome the surface tension of a polymer solution, causing an electrically charged jet to be ejected; as the jet travels through the air, the solvent evaporates, leaving behind an electrically charged fiber, which can be collected in the form of a nonwoven sheet. A superabsorbent was added to a polymer solution containing an elastomer (concentrations = 0–85%). The mixture was electrospun, producing nanofibers in which the superabsorbent particles were held in place with nanoscale elastic fibers. The nanofibers were tested for absorbency in water and synthetic urine. Fluid absorption by the nanofibers led to the formation of structured hydrogels. Increases in the weight gain from water absorption ranged from 400 to 5000%. The linear dimensions of samples cut from the nonwoven sheet were measured; wetting the superabsorbent increased the thickness dimension of the sheet dramatically and produced a smaller change in the plane of the sheet. The rate of water absorption was calculated; the samples containing 0–70% superabsorbent reached essentially their maximum absorbency within 5 s. The excellent strength and elasticity of the wet samples make these structured hydrogels ideal for many uses, including wound care, drug delivery, and sanitary goods.

Publication Title

Journal of Applied Polymer Science





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