The work presented was on the processing of ultrafine continuous polymeric fibers ranging from tens of nanometers to a few micrometers using electtrospinning technique is well known. In recent years, nanosized reinforcements have been used to further improve/tailor the mechanical properties and structural morphology of electrospun fibers. The current study is aimed to develop randomly oriented nanocomposite fiber mats by electrospinning, using cellulose and chitin nanocrystals as reinforcements/functional additives and explore the potential of the electrospun nanocomposite mats for wound dressing application.
Randomly oriented fiber mats were prepared and the effect of inclusion of cellulose nanocrystals and chitin nanocrystals on the structural morphology and diameter of electrospun fibers were studied. Crosslinking of the mats resulted in more compact film like structure for only matrix (M) and M-CNCH2SO4 while M-ChNC and M-CNCHCL mats were less affected. The electrospun fibers had diameters in the range of 116-631 nm, which decreased with inclusion of nanocrystals except for M-CNCH2SO4 where aggregation of CNCs probably occurred. The nanocrystals as well as the crosslinking had positive impact on the mechanical properties of electrospun mats. The random mats showed porosity and are expected to facilitate cell growth, though porosity decreased with crosslinking probably due to dissolution of PEO. The mats exhibited water vapour permeability in the range of 1202 - 1879 g.m-2day-1, which falls in the range of water vapour transmission for wounds and the permeability decreased slightly after crosslinking. The nanocrystals as well as the nanocomposite mats showed compatibility towards cells, indicating potential application as wound dressing materials.