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Research at AFML
Role of Navitar’s Optics
The Advanced Fibrous Materials Laboratory (AFML) is a research laboratory at the department of Materials Engineering in the University of British Columbia (UBC). The research group at AFML explores the fields of biomedical, functional, and structural electrospun fibers. This application note covers the use of Navitar’s optics in the development of next generation of nanofibers by the AFML research group.
Research at AFML
At present, the AFML research group works on the development of next-generation nanofibers utilizing polymer solutions functionalized with inorganic and organic nanoparticles. Fibers with diameters on the order of 100 nm are called as nanofibers. As these fibers exhibit exotic properties, they hold potential for a myriad of applications ranging from consumer products to medical and industrial to high-tech applications in the fields of information technology, energy storage, textiles, drug delivery systems, and aerospace.
The AFML group is particularly interested in the development of nanofibers for use in the medical field. Its intended objective of developing a new generation of nanofibers will open up new opportunities to advance tissue engineering scaffolds in orthopedic, medical textile materials, wound dressings, drug delivery, vascular stents, surgical implants, artificial organ components, vascular and neural prostheses.
Role of Navitar’s Optics
The AFML research group uses an electrospinning process for the fabrication of the next generation of nanofibers. The schematic diagram of this electrospinning process is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Diagram showing fiber formation by electrospinning. Image credit: Wikipedia.
A Navitar Zoom 6000 lens equipped with an optical tube assembly and 5x zoom extender has been used by the research group in the process.
The electrospinning process creates functional nanofibers from polymer solutions in an applied electric potential of 5-10 kV. It is essential to maintain a balance between desired potential and flow rate in the initial stages of the electrospinning process in order to fine tune the properties of the nanofibers being formed.
It is crucial to monitor the tip of the syringe holding the polymer solution and the jet discharging from the nozzle to modify the flow rate of the solution. This step is a challenge to the AFML research group and can be carried out as a trial and error process.
To facilitate this step in the electrospinning process, the research group employs a CCD camera in combination with a Navitar Zoom 6000 lens system for monitoring the polymer solution and refining the properties of the nanofibers.
The reason for the selection of the Zoom 6000 lens system was its ability to deliver superior quality and cost-efficient solutions to this special application.
The use of the Navitar optical system has helped the AFML research group to efficiently perform the electrospinning process for creating the next generation of nanofibers.
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