Many polymers have shown interesting properties regarding their biocompatibility and their ability to be used in tissue engineering. The use of nanofibers – or materials with nanoscopic properties – is a nice approach to mimic the native extracellular matrix of a tissue. In particular, nanofibers can be produced using an electrospinning device. This technique has gained popularity in the last decade thanks to its simplicity and inexpensive nature, but also thanks to the whole variety of fibers that can be produced.
Briefly, a strong electric field is applied to a needle in which a polymer solution of appropriate composition is flowing. The applied electric field results in charge repulsion within the solution and will eventually overcome the surface tension at the needle tip, causing the formation of a jet. As this jet travels to the grounded metallic collector – distant a few centimeters – the solvent evaporates, fibers will be formed and will be deposited on the collector.
By changing the properties of the solutions (polymer, concentration, solvent, additives,...), the architecture of the fibers will dramatically change and after tuning it carefully, the extracellular matrix of a tissue can be mimicked.