The effect of poly (lactic-co-glycolic) acid composition on the mechanical properties of electrospun fibrous mats

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of polymer molecular structure on the electrospinnability and mechanical properties of electrospun fibrous mats (EFMs). Polymers with similar molecular weight but different composition ratios (lactic acid (LA) and glycolic acid (GA)) were dissolved in binary mixtures of N,N-dimethylformamide (DMF) and tetrahydrofuran (THF). The intrinsic viscosity and rheological properties of polymer solutions were investigated prior to electrospinning. The morphology and mechanical properties of the resulting EFMs were characterized by scanning electron microscope (SEM) and dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA). Sufficiently high inter-molecular interactions were found to be a prerequisite to ensure the formation of fibers in the electrospinning process, regardless the polymer composition. The higher the amount of GA in the polymer composition, the more ordered and entangled molecules were formed after electrospinning from the solution in THF-DMF, which resulted in higher Young’s modulus and tensile strength of the EFMs. In conclusion, this study shows that the mechanical properties of EFMs, which depend on the polymer molecule-solvent affinity, can be predicted by the inter-molecular interactions in the starting polymer solutions and over the drying process of electrospinning.

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