IMDEA Materials is currently manufacturing this technology in combination with nanoparticles in four diverse areas:
- Water treatment/purification: the objective is to achieve high flux and low fouling membranes to incorporate in a cross-flow filtration device. Functional nanoparticles (like N-doped TiO2, TiO2/Ag/Cu functionalized sepiolites) having photocatalytic and biocidal activities will be incorporated in hydrophilic polymer membranes. Easy access to functional nanoparticles will be granted by fabricating hollow/porous nanofibers and placing the former in the latter’s core.
- Wound dressing: aim of this project is to develop novel alternate biocompatible wound dressing materials, which can exhibit the required combinatorial properties like absorb exudate, maintain moist environment, adsorb odour causing molecules, permeable to oxygen impermeable to bacteria and biodegradable. For this purpose, porous polylactic acid nanofibrous mats reinforced with functionalized natural clay minerals are being evaluated.
- Advanced structural composites: the focus of the project is to prepare interleaves based on various polymeric materials/conductive nanoparticles and incorporate in fiber reinforced polymers (FRPs) using resin transfer moulding. The fundamental basis is to use the concept of interfaces to achieve multi-functionality (mechanical, acoustic and conductive properties). Bioceramics: the emphasis is to enhance the biocompatibility of pure Zr (implants) by coating with ZrO2 nanofibers. Closely monitored activities include the interaction/adhesion of pure Zr and ZrO2 fibers, interspersed void density and the enhanced surface area versus cell viability.
The top figure is an example of electrospun polylactid acid nanofibrous membrane with interspersed voids; the inset reveals the porous structure of individual fibers. The bottom figure is a representative example of a polymeric membrane with flat nano-ribbons. Depending on the vapour pressure/volatility of the solvents, voltage and distance between the needle and collector in spinning, different structures can be achieved to suit the application needs.
By Dr. Aravind Dasari and Dr. Berta Herrero
Multifunctional Nanocomposites Group of IMDEA-Materials