The motivation for this study is to reproduce processing conditions which lead to the formation of photo or photoinduced
thermal actuation, combined with inexpensive, environmentally friendly (easily degradable) materials.
Commercially available polymer, poly lactic acid (PLA), was used in our studies. PLA is a well know biodegradable
polymer naturally obtained from corn. PLA was received as a solid resin in pellet form and dissolved in 1:3
acetone/chloroform solutions, to achieve the proper electrospinning kinematic viscosity. Once in the liquid phase, the
material was mixed with commercially available multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) at varying concentrations
and dispersed by severe sonication. The mixtures was electrospun at room temperature using a home built electrospinning
apparatus capable of depositing randomly oriented fiber mats or oriented fibers onto different substrates, ranging from
oxidized silicon wafers, alumina squares or glass microscope slides. The fibers diameters and lengths are statistically
distributed following a log-normal distribution and the mean and dispersion are controlled by spinning parameters. Once
the fibers were electrospun, they were compositionally, morphologically and structurally characterized by thermal and
gravimetric analysis (TGA/DTA), rheology, imaging using a focused Ion Beam Scanning Electron Microscope (IBSEM),
and IR /Raman methodologies.
These studies can be used to explore PLA-MWCNTs mixtures suitability in applications such as super-capacitor
technology, which would enable us to pursue further research in this field, while focusing on improving the electro
spinning conditions so as to be able to better anticipate fiber morphology to generate a consistent regime of fibers.