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Issue 33, 2017
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Programming shape and tailoring transport: advancing hygromorphic bilayers with aligned nanofibers

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Abstract

Natural systems utilize nanofiber architectures to guide water transport, tune mechanical properties, and actuate in response to their environment. In order to harness these properties, a hygromorphic bilayer composite comprised of a self-assembled fiber network and an aligned electrospun fiber network was fabricated. Molecular gel self-assembly was utilized to increase hydrophobicity and strength in one layer, while aligned electrospun poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) nanofibers increased the rate of hydration and facilitated tunable actuation in the other. Interfacing these two fiber networks in a poly(ethylene oxide-co-epichlorohydrin) (EO–EPI) matrix led to hydration-driven actuation with tunable curvature. Specifically, variations in fiber alignment were achieved by cutting at 0, 90, and 45 degree angles in relation to the length edge of the composite. Along with the ability to program the natural curvature, the utilization of aligned nanofibers increased water transport compared to random nanofiber systems, resulting in a reduction in response time from 20+ minutes to 2–3 minutes.

Graphical abstract: Programming shape and tailoring transport: advancing hygromorphic bilayers with aligned nanofibers

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Article information


Submitted
14 May 2017
Accepted
09 Jul 2017
First published
21 Jul 2017

Soft Matter, 2017,13, 5589-5596
Article type
Paper

Programming shape and tailoring transport: advancing hygromorphic bilayers with aligned nanofibers

S. L. M. Alexander, S. Ahmadmehrabi and L. T. J. Korley, Soft Matter, 2017, 13, 5589
DOI: 10.1039/C7SM00962C

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