(716c) Bio-Inspired Green Approach to Manufacture Fibers

Shanmuganathan, K., The University of Texas at Austin
Sankhagowit, R. K., The University of Texas at Austin
Iyer, P., The University of Texas at Austin

Recent advancements in fiber production techniques have facilitated new applications for fibrous materials in diverse fields such as optoelectronics,regenerative medicine,piezoelectrics,ceramic materials, etc. Current polymer fiber manufacturing methods almost always use solvents or heat to lower polymer viscosity for processing. A greener approach to making fibers remains a challenge. However, spiders and silkworms have developed benign ways of making silk fibers with high strength and toughness. Their approach of chemically linking small functional units into long chain molecules and solid fibrillar structures while simultaneously extruding the fibers is fundamentally different from current synthetic fiber manufacturing methods, where extrusion of pre-formed long chain polymers is facilitated with organic solvents or heat.  Drawing inspiration from nature, a method will be described which uses light to trigger a thiol-ene chemical interaction to rapidly transform small reactive liquid mixtures into solid thread-like structures as they are forced out of a capillary at high speeds. Besides being manufactured without using solvents/volatile components or heat, these fibers are mechanically robust and have excellent chemical and thermal stability.
See more of this Session: Product and Process Development for Sustainability II

See more of this Group/Topical: Process Development Division