MIT researchers describe a new device for producing nanofiber meshes, which matches the production rate and power efficiency of its best-performing predecessor — but significantly reduces variation in the fibers’ diameters. Meshes made from fibers with nanometer-scale diameters have a wide range of potential applications, including tissue engineering, water filtration, solar cells, and even body armor. But their commercialization has been hampered by inefficient manufacturing techniques. But whereas the predecessor device, from the same MIT group, was etched into silicon through a complex process that required an airlocked “clean room,” the new device was built using a $3,500 commercial 3-D printer. The work thus points toward nanofiber manufacture that is not only more reliable but also much cheaper.

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