PLLA fibrous tissue scaffolds with controlled fiber nanoscale surface roughness are fabricated with a novel centrifugal jet spinning process. The centrifugal jet spinning technique is a highly efficient synthesis method for micron- to nano-sized fibers with a production rate up to 0.5 g min−1. During the centrifugal jet spinning process, a polymer solution jet is stretched by the centrifugal force of a rotating chamber. By engineering the rheological properties of the polymer solution, solvent evaporation rate and centrifugal force that are applied on the solution jet, polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) and poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) composite fibers with various diameters are fabricated. Viscosity measurements of polymer solutions allowed us to determine critical polymer chain entanglement limits that allow the generation of continuous fiber as opposed to beads or beaded fibers. Above a critical concentration at which polymer chains are partially or fully entangled, lower polymer concentrations and higher centrifugal forces resulted in thinner fibers. Etching of PVP from the PLLA–PVP composite fibers doped with increasing PVP concentrations yielded PLLA fibers with increasing nano-scale surface roughness and porosity, which increased the fiber hydrophilicity dramatically. Scanning electron micrographs of the etched composite fibers suggest that PVP and PLLA were co-contiguously phase separated within the composite fibers during spinning and nano-scale roughness features were created after the partial etching of PVP. To study the tissue regeneration efficacy of the engineered PLLA fiber matrix, human dermal fibroblasts are used to simulate partial skin graft. Fibers with increased PLLA surface roughness and porosity demonstrated a trend towards higher cell attachment and proliferation.
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