Nanofiber technology is an area attracting the attention of many research branches. Nanofibers provide connections between the nano- and macro-world because their diameters are in the order of nanometres, while their lengths can run into hundreds of metres or more. Nanofibers must have a fiber diameter of less than 100 nm, although the commercial sector allows an upper fiber diameter limit of 300 nm or even 500 nm.
The electrostatic spinning of nanofibers has several advantages over bulk materials, i.e. in particular the huge surface-to-volume ratio, very high porosity and improved physico-chemical properties. Of the various process methods (drawing, phase separation, self-alignment, etc.), electrospinning is the only viable method that can be further developed for the mass production of nanofibers from various polymers.
electronics (storage devices, spintronics, bioelectronics, quantum electronics),
health care (targeted drug delivery, artificial joints, valves, replacement tissues, new generation disinfectant solutions, analysers, protective masks),
mechanical engineering (superhard surfaces with low friction, self-cleaning non-scratch paints, machine tools),
construction (new insulation materials, self-cleaning facade coatings, non-stick dressings),
chemical industry (nanotubes, nanocomposites, selective catalysis, aerogels, cosmetic creams and varnishes with an UV filter),
textile industry (non-crease, hydrophobic and non-soiling fabrics),
electrical industry (high-capacity recording media, photo materials, fuel cells),
optics (optical filters, lasers and LEDs, photonic crystals and photonic fibers, integrated optics),
automotive industry (hydrophobic surfaces, windscreen filters),
space industry (catalysts, impervious satellite surfaces),
military (nanosensors, spaceplane components),
environment (biodegradation, removal of impurities, marking of food).
One of the most important fields of nanofiber use is biomedical applications. Biomedicine accounts for two thirds of nanofiber applications, filtration covers a sixth, and the remainder is divided among other applications (protective clothing, optical electronics, etc.). The main applications of nanofibers in biomedicine involve tissue engineering, drug delivery, and wound healing bandages.
Nanofibers are an interesting material for biomedical applications for many reasons. Compared with most materials, the surface area of nanofibers, allowing for the adhesion of cells, proteins and drugs, is much larger. In fact, many in vitro studies of nanofiber wound healing bandages, tissue engineering scaffolds and drug carriers have shown that nanofiber materials outperform their micro or macro counterparts even when they are composed of the same materials. The properties of nanofiber layers, such as porosity, can generally be adapted.