Development of Oriented Polymeric Materials for Membrane Applications (Gilbert)
We have been examining the electrospinning of polymer fibers in a highly aligned fashion onto predeposited, thin polymer films. This is accomplished by using a aground electrode for collection of the fibers that consists of a rapidly rotating metal wheel. The perimeter surface of the wheel has been coated with a thin filn of the desired polymer prior to the electrospinning process. Once the Electrospinning begins, the wheel is rapidly rotated (500 to 2000 rpm) at a rate which is sufficient to wind the newly generated fibers onto the predeposited film. The resulting composite consists of a thin film fully covered by highly aligned polymer fibers. This composite structure not only yields a potentially more mechanically flexible, yet tough membrane, but also can be imparted with anisotropic properties that could be useful for membrane or other applications. We are presently spinning similar polymers into this structure, but will be examining the potential of spinning hybrid organic/inorganic composite matrices in a similar fashion. We have been able to demonstrate the spinning of alkoxide containing polymers that we hope to adapt to this process.