A Novel Method to Precisely Assemble Loose Nanofiber Structures for Regenerative Medicine Applications

Authors

  • Vince Beachley,

    1. Clemson-MUSC Bioengineering Program, Department of Bioengineering, Clemson University, Charleston, SC, 29425 USA
    2. Translational Tissue Engineering Center, Wilmer Eye Institute and Department of Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21231, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Eleni Katsanevakis,

    1. Clemson-MUSC Bioengineering Program, Department of Bioengineering, Clemson University, Charleston, SC, 29425 USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Ning Zhang,

    1. Clemson-MUSC Bioengineering Program, Department of Bioengineering, Clemson University, Charleston, SC, 29425 USA
    2. Department of Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology, Neuroscience, Dental Medicine, and Orthopedic Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, 29425 USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Xuejun Wen

    Corresponding author
    1. Clemson-MUSC Bioengineering Program, Department of Bioengineering, Clemson University, Charleston, SC, 29425 USA
    2. Department of Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology, Neuroscience, Dental Medicine, and Orthopedic Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, 29425 USA
    • Clemson-MUSC Bioengineering Program, Department of Bioengineering, Clemson University, Charleston, SC, 29425 USA.
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Polymer nanofibers are favorable for tissue engineering scaffolds because of their high surface-to-volume ratio and biomimicry of the extracellular matrix. Random and uniaxially oriented polymer nanofibers are easily fabricated by conventional electrospinning techniques; however, control over fiber organization within nanofiber structures is limited when they are collected directly from an electrospinning jet. The regenerative medicine applications of electrospun scaffolds could be expanded by developing assembly methods that allow better control of fiber organization. Here, a novel technique is presented that utilizes parallel automated tracks to orient and collect nanofibers from an electrospinning jet. The stabilized fibers are then subsequently assembled into desirable structures. It is difficult to assemble complex structures directly from an electrospinning jet because of high electrical charge and velocities, so this technology adds an intermediate step where nanofibers are immobilized on automated tracks. The result is a continuous steady-state delivery of static stabilized nanofibers that provides a unique and promising platform for automated post processing into useful nanofiber structures. This technique also allows for an indefinite amount of time, as determined by design parameters, for fibers to dry or cool before they contact other nanofibers in the collection site, thus eliminating potential for fiber-to-fiber adhesions even with slow evaporating solvents or high-temperature melts. To demonstrate potential in regenerative medicine applications, several nanofiber structures were fabricated, including: 2D structures with well-controlled fiber density; 3D loosely assembled aligned nanofiber structures with good cell penetration properties; and, complex layer-by-layer 3D aligned fiber structures assembled by integration with post-processing techniques.

Ancillary