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Electrospinning of agar/PVA aqueous solutions and its relation with rheological properties

Ana M.M. Sousa, Hiléia K.S. Souza, Joseph Uknalis, Shih-Chuan Liu, Maria P. Gonçalves, LinShu Liu
Carbohydrate polymers 2015 v.115 pp. 348-355
agar, aqueous solutions, biocompatible materials, gelation, mixing, nanofibers, polyvinyl alcohol, solvents, viscoelasticity
In this work, we report the successful fabrication of agar-based nanofibers by electrospinning technique, using water as solvent media. A tubeless spinneret was attached inside the electrospinning chamber, operating at 50°C, to avoid agar gelation. Agar pure solution (1wt%) showed inadequate spinnability regardless of the used electrospinning conditions. The addition of a co-blending polymer such as PVA (10wt% starting solution) improved the solutions viscoelasticity and hence, the solutions spinnability. Agar/PVA solutions were prepared with different mass ratios (100/0, 50/50, 40/60, 30/70, 20/80 and 0/100) and electrospun at various sets of electrospinning conditions. Best nanofibers were obtained with 30/70 and 20/80 agar/PVA blends while samples with higher agar contents (50/50 and 40/60 agar/PVA) were harder to process and led to discontinuous fibrous mats. This first set of encouraging results can open a new window of opportunities for agar-based biomaterials in the form of nanofibers.