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Open AccessArticle

Electrospun Alginate Fibers: Mixing of Two Different Poly(ethylene oxide) Grades to Improve Fiber Functional Properties

1
Department of Drug Sciences, University of Pavia, 27100 Pavia, Italy
2
Department of Chemistry, University of Pavia, 27100 Pavia, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nanomaterials 2018, 8(12), 971; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano8120971
Received: 30 October 2018 / Revised: 13 November 2018 / Accepted: 20 November 2018 / Published: 25 November 2018
The aim of the present work was to investigate how the molecular weight (MW) of poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO), a synthetic polymer able to improve alginate (ALG) electrospinnability, could affect ALG-based fiber morphology and mechanical properties. Two PEO grades, having different MWs (high, h-PEO, and low, l-PEO) were blended with ALG: the concentrations of both PEOs in each mixture were defined so that each h-PEO/l-PEO combination would show the same viscosity at high shear rate. Seven ALG/h-PEO/l-PEO mixtures were prepared and characterized in terms of viscoelasticity and conductivity and, for each mixture, a complex parameter rH/rL was calculated to better identify which of the two PEO grades prevails over the other in terms of exceeding the critical entanglement concentration. Thereafter, each mixture was electrospun by varying the process parameters; the fiber morphology and mechanical properties were evaluated. Finally, viscoelastic measurements were performed to verify the formation of intermolecular hydrogen bonds between the two PEO grades and ALG. rH/rL has been proved to be the parameter that better explains the effect of the electrospinning conditions on fiber dimension. The addition of a small amount of h-PEO to l-PEO was responsible for a significant increase in fiber mechanical resistance, without affecting the nano-scale fiber size. Moreover, the mixing of h-PEO and l-PEO improved the interaction with ALG, resulting in an increase in chain entanglement degree that is functional in the electrospinning process. View Full-Text
Keywords: electrospinning; ALG-containing fibers; poly(ethylene oxide); molecular weight; critical entanglement concentration; mechanical properties; intermolecular hydrogen bonds electrospinning; ALG-containing fibers; poly(ethylene oxide); molecular weight; critical entanglement concentration; mechanical properties; intermolecular hydrogen bonds
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MDPI and ACS Style

Vigani, B.; Rossi, S.; Milanesi, G.; Bonferoni, M.C.; Sandri, G.; Bruni, G.; Ferrari, F. Electrospun Alginate Fibers: Mixing of Two Different Poly(ethylene oxide) Grades to Improve Fiber Functional Properties. Nanomaterials 2018, 8, 971.

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