Polymer Nanofibers Prepared by Electrospinning
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The use of fibers has a long history, the traditional application being in clothing. Natural fibers such as silk, wool, or cotton provide attractive properties for such applications. Fiber diameters characteristic of such natural fibers are 15–40 µm for sheep wool, approximately 20 µm for cotton, and approximately 20 µm for cultivated silk. Natural fibers compete in this area of applications with synthetic fibers. Man-made fibers are predominantly produced by melt spinning, which leads to fiber diameters typically in the range from about 5 to more than 70 µm, thus covering the diameter range characteristic of natural fibers. To produce such fibers, the polymer melt is pumped through a spinneret. Fiber stretching is applied not only to obtain a certain reduction of the diameter but also to simultaneously enhance the chain orientation and mechanical properties.