How knowledge of fiber properties led to the fabrication of a heart valve

By Karl Kersten - Apr 13, 2017

These days, fibers and fiber materials can be found in endless applications. A wide range of these materials is used everywhere from baby diapers to water filters, from applications in asbestos to the automotive industry. Because of their widespread use, a lot of research is carried out to alter fiber materials and enhance their properties. This includes research on components as well as on fiber preparation technologies. One example is the fabrication of a heart valve using differently engineered fibers, which is described in this blog in more detail.

Kluin et al. (Biomaterials (2017), DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2017.02.007) from TU Eindhoven describes how a novel supramolecular elastomer was used to build a fibrous valve. A PC-BU polymer was developed and synthesized, according to the preparation method of the polycaprolactone bis-urea biomaterial described elsewhere (Wisse et al., Biomacromolecules 2006).

In a follow-up step, the PC-BU solvent-cast film was prepared using chloroform/methanol as a solvent and dried in a vacuum to remove any potentially remaining solvent. Film samples were then incubated in cell culture conditions to test for cytotoxicity.

The valves were manufactured by suturing an electrospun tube of PC-BU on a polyether ether ketone (PEEK) support. For electrospinning, the PC-BU polymer was dissolved in solvents and stirred overnight. After complete dissolution, the polymers were electrospun in a climate-controlled electrospinning apparatus. A grounded rotating mandrel was used as a collector.

How SEM helps

The working principle is this: as the polymer jet accelerates towards the collector, the solvent evaporates, and a charged polymer fiber is deposited on the rotating target in the form of a non-woven mesh. A more detailed analysis of the mesh is then performed with a scanning electron microscope (SEM). In this way, the fibers’ morphology and size can be analyzed in an automated manner, using FiberMetric software.

image1-23.jpg                SEM image of non-woven fibers.jpg

Fig. 1: SEM image of fiber at 9000x magnification                     Fig. 2: SEM image of non-woven fibers

If you are interested in an efficient and easy tool to measure your fibers, you can download the FiberMetric software specification sheet here for more information:

Download the FiberMetric software specification sheet

About the author

Karl Kersten is head of the Application team at Thermo Fisher Scientific, the world leader in serving science. He is passionate about the Thermo Fisher Scientific product and likes converting customer requirements into product or feature specifications so customers can achieve their goals.

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