Lab

Laboratory for Biomimetic Membranes and Textiles

About the lab

Featured research (2)

Electrospinning evolved as a powerful technology to produce membranes consisting of nano- to micron-scaled fibers offering unique membrane properties due to the extremely high surface-to-volume ratio and high membrane porosity. However, this technology is often far removed from a green and environmentally-friendly process, as it employs solvents with issues such as high flammability, toxicity, difficult disposal, or energy-intensive synthesis. Indeed, the most commonly used solvents in the electrospinning field are halogenated (e.g. chloroform, trifluoroethanol) and toxic solvents (e.g. dimethylformamide), the use of which is now restricted by the Chemical Control Regulation in the European Union (REACH). This is especially important when considering the commercialization of electrospun products due to the more limited solvent choice. In order to render electrospinning more attractive as a commercial technique and further improve scalability, solvent alternatives and other green routes have to be established, which adhere to societal and legal restrictions especially in regard to the environmental and health impact. Therefore, this review provides the current ecological and economical context of this technology, and summarizes recent approaches towards green electrospinning. Since electrospinning from solutions and dispersions constitutes the predominantly used form of this technique both in research and industry, the focus of this work is set on the use of solvents or solvent mixtures classified exclusively by the term “green”. The approaches presented comprehensively cover the production of polymeric fibers via solution, emulsion, suspension, and in situ cross-linking electrospinning.
Transparent face masks are the ultimate solution for improving communication during pandemic times while at the same time slowing the spread of pathogens. Here, we demonstrate an easily scalable process consisting of directly electrospinning polyamide nanofibers onto a mechanical stable substrate made of poly(lactic acid) by a needleless setup for the production of transparent filter material. Filtration tests against NaCl and fructose aerosols and pressure drop tests were performed and compared with the European standard for medical face masks (EN 14683:2019) and the Swiss rule for community masks (SNR 30000:2021). The filter showed outstanding transparency (∼70% transmittance in the visible-light range), 89% filtration efficiency against PM1.0, and a pressure drop of 6.5 Pa/cm².

Lab head

René Michel Rossi
Department
  • Department Materials meet Life

Members (34)

Thijs Defraeye
  • Empa - Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology
Giuseppino Fortunato
  • Empa - Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology
Simon Annaheim
  • Empa - Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology
Agnes Psikuta
  • Empa - Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology
Luciano F. Boesel
  • Empa - Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology
Daniel I. Onwude
  • Empa - Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology
Amin Sadeghpour
  • University of Leeds
Kongchang Wei
  • Empa - Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology
Alexander Haag
Alexander Haag
  • Not confirmed yet

Alumni (11)

Daniel Crespy
  • Vidyasirimedhi Institute of Science and Technology
Faming Wang
  • KU Leuven
Lutz-Christian Gerhardt
  • Philips Research Eindhoven
Lukas Scherer
  • GlucoSet AS