PITA Fiscal Year 2007 Projects

Nanotechnology

Ultra-Strong Aligned Micro/Nanofiber Fabrication using a Glass Micropipette based Fiber Drawing Technique
A novel micro/nanofiber drawing technique has been developed by the PI and co-pies recently for custom fabrication of suspended polymer fibers down to 50 nm diameters from polymer solutions. Although there are many polymer fiber fabrication techniques such as electrospinning, template synthesis, and self-assembly, none of these techniques can fabricate aligned fibers conventionally. Therefore, this project aims to develop a new probe based polymer fiber drawing technique which would form aligned fibers continuously. This project would especially focus on Kevlar® and ultra high molecular weight (UHMW) polyurethane type of ultra-strong polymer fiber fabrication for ultra-strong textile applications such as light and flexible bullet proof jackets by collaborating with MSA Inc. Major challenge of this type of strong fiber fabrication method is drawing massively parallel fibers with centimeters of length and sub-micron scale diameter continuously. To achieve this goal, a fiber drawing method using glass micropipettes is proposed in this work. Here, the polymer solution is pumped continuously through the glass micropipette, which provides greater flexibility in drawing continuous fibers in any configuration. Moreover, this method offers greater flexibility in the control of key parameters of drawing such as waiting time before drawing, the drawing speed and the drawn upon surface topography; thus, enabling repeatability and control on the dimensions of the fabricated fibers.

Analysis and experimental methods to be developed in this study will improve our fundamental understanding of the polymer drawing process at the micro/nanoscale as a significant scientific contribution. In this project, a PhD student would be trained, and nanoscale science and engineering research in Pennsylvania would be advanced. Moreover, this micro/nano-fiber drawing technology would be commercialized in the near future by collaborating with MSA Inc. which is located in Pittsburgh for ultra-strong textile and many other potential applications. MSA Inc. will also help us to conduct bullet strength tests in their facilities in Pittsburgh. These products would have many impacts on Pennsylvania industry.