(19)
(11)EP 3 372 712 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
23.12.2020 Bulletin 2020/52

(21)Application number: 16861654.8

(22)Date of filing:  04.11.2016
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
D01D 5/14(2006.01)
B23K 26/14(2014.01)
D01D 5/00(2006.01)
A61F 2/00(2006.01)
C08K 7/02(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/ES2016/070776
(87)International publication number:
WO 2017/077158 (11.05.2017 Gazette  2017/19)

(54)

METHOD AND DEVICE FOR GENERATING CONTINUOUS FIBRES HAVING A NANOSCALE DIAMETER AND NANOSCALE FIBRES GENERATED

VERFAHREN UND VORRICHTUNG ZUR ERZEUGUNG VON ENDLOSFASERN MIT NANOSKALIGEM DURCHMESSER UND ERZEUGTE NANOSKALIGE FASERN

PROCÉDÉ ET DISPOSITIF POUR LA GÉNÉRATION DE FIBRES CONTINUES DE DIAMÈTRE NANOMÉTRIQUE, ET FIBRES NANOMÉTRIQUES AINSI PRODUITES


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 06.11.2015 ES 201531603

(43)Date of publication of application:
12.09.2018 Bulletin 2018/37

(73)Proprietor: Universidade de Vigo
36310 Vigo - Pontevedra (ES)

(72)Inventors:
  • QUINTERO MARTÍNEZ, Félix
    36280 Vigo - Pontevedra (ES)
  • PENIDE DURÁN, Joaquín
    36280 Vigo - Pontevedra (ES)
  • RIVEIRO RODRÍGUEZ, Antonio
    36280 Vigo - Pontevedra (ES)
  • DEL VAL GARCÍA, Jesús
    36280 Vigo - Pontevedra (ES)
  • COMESAÑA PIÑEIRO, Rafael
    36280 Vigo - Pontevedra (ES)
  • LUSQUIÑOS RODRÍGUEZ, Fernando
    E-36280 Vigo - Pontevedra (ES)
  • POU SARACHO, Juan María
    36280 Vigo - Pontevedra (ES)

(74)Representative: ABG Intellectual Property Law, S.L. 
Avenida de Burgos, 16D Edificio Euromor
28036 Madrid
28036 Madrid (ES)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A2-2011/100743
CN-A- 103 924 309
US-A1- 2011 073 243
CN-A- 102 758 264
JP-A- 2010 275 665
US-A1- 2015 240 388
  
  • F?lix Quintero ET AL: "Production of glass nanofibres by a novel technique: Laser Spinning", NanoSpain2010, 1 January 2010 (2010-01-01), XP055380203, Retrieved from the Internet: URL:http://www.nanospainconf.org/2010/Oral s/NanoSpain2010_Quintero.pdf [retrieved on 2017-06-09]
  • RAMAKRISHNA S ET AL: "Electrospun nanofibers: solving global issues", MATERIALS TODAY, ELSEVIER, AMSTERDAM, NL, vol. 9, no. 3, 1 March 2006 (2006-03-01), pages 40-50, XP028034043, ISSN: 1369-7021, DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(06)71389-X [retrieved on 2006-03-01]
  • RAMAKRISHNA, S. ET AL.: 'Electrospun nanofibers: solving global issues.' MATERIALS TODAY vol. 9, 2006, pages 40 - 50, XP028034043
  • QUINTERO, F. ET AL.: 'Production of glass nanofibres by a novel technique: Laser Spinning' NANOSPAIN2010, [Online] 2010, XP055380203 Retrieved from the Internet: <URL:http://www.nanospainconf.org/2010/Oral s/NanoSpain2010_Quintero.pdf>
  • XIUYAN, LI ET AL.: 'Preparation and properties of PET/Si02 composite micro/nanofibers by a laser melt-electrospinning system' JOURNAL OF APPLIED POLYMER SCIENCE vol. 125, 2012, pages 2050 - 2055, XP055025008
  • OGATA, N. ET AL.: 'Poly(lactide) Nanofibers Produced by a Melt-Electrospinning System with a Laser Melting Device' JOURNAL OF APPLIED POLYMER SCIENCE vol. 104, 2007, pages 1640 - 1645, XP055380206
  • ZHMAYEV, E. ET AL.: 'Nanofibers from gas-assisted polymer melt electrospinning.' POLYMER vol. 51, 2010, pages 4140 - 4144, XP027208671
  • BHARDWAJ, N. ET AL.: 'Electrospinning: A fascinating fiber fabrication technique.' BIOTECHNOLOGY ADVANCES vol. 28, 2010, pages 325 - 347, XP026983666
  
Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


Description

Field of the Art



[0001] The present invention is comprised in the field of material processing techniques for producing nanomaterials, i.e., materials in which at least one of its dimensions is in nanoscale.

[0002] The technique described in the present invention allows producing continuous and separate fibers the diameter of which is in nanoscale and the length of which is indefinitely long.

Background of the Invention



[0003] There is an enormous demand for new materials with unique properties that allow introducing significant breakthroughs in various technological fields. This demand motivates the synthesis and application of new nanomaterials that meet these new needs. Out of the different types of nanomaterials that have been investigated, those materials which are almost one-dimensional, such as crystalline nanotubes and nanowires or amorphous nanofibers, are among those which stand out the most. This is because of their remarkable properties resulting from an extraordinarily high ratio of surface area to volume and their reduced diameters. Furthermore, if nanofibers reach a macroscopic length, they can serve as a valuable bridge between macroscopic applications and nanoscale properties, making a beneficial range of applications of the nanomaterials possible.

[0004] Nevertheless, the synthesis of nanowires or nanofibers having long lengths and their integration in the sustainable production of functional materials still faces significant challenges. There are a number of industrial methods for obtaining inorganic or polymeric glass fibers with diameters in the microscale range (microfibers). They all involve melting the precursor material so that it can be drawn by means of one of the following three fundamental techniques: 1) rotary fiberizing, which is based on centrifuging the molten precursor through holes made in a drum turning at a high speed; 2) melt blowing, which is based on extruding the precursor material melt through a hole, while a gas jet entrains and cools the filament; 3) mechanical pulling methods, which use different types of mechanical systems to induce axial stress in a molten preform experiencing uniaxial elongation, forming a uniform filament. However, it is not possible to obtain continuous nanofibers having indefinite lengths with any of these methods.

[0005] On the other hand, electrospinning is a scalable technique for producing nanofibers with a high productive capacity. It is a simple and efficient technique that allows obtaining nanofibers from a material that must be in liquid state. As a result, it has been used for obtaining polymer nanofibers. However, the production of ceramic nanofibers is very complex with this method due to their high melting point. As a result, sol-gel materials must be used as precursors. However, the results of this method are not always entirely satisfactory: calcination of the sol-gel precursor involves certain drawbacks, as the nanofibers acquire high porosity after the process, which gives them poor mechanical properties. In other cases, the fibers are welded together during the curing and calcination process, which produces a bound web that cannot be separated, ordered, or woven. Furthermore, the incompatibility between some precursor chemical compounds of the sol-gel restricts the range of compositions of the end product.

[0006] For a review on electrospun nanofibers see RAMAKRISHNA, S. et al., "Electrospun nanofibers: solving global issues.", Materials Today, (2006), vol. 9, pages 40 - 50.

[0007] JP2010275665 discloses the production of an ultrafine conjugate fiber from a solid formed article of a composite resin product having two or more phases comprising the polyoxymethylene polymer as the first component and a thermoplastic polymer as the second component by heating and melting the formed article in front of a supply-side electrode and/or between the supply-side electrode and a collector electrode, and stretching the molten resin by the electrospinning method.

[0008] US2015240388 discloses high performance reinforcing nanostructure additives, high throughput processes for using such additives, and composites comprising such additives. Such nanostructure additives include nanofibers, including nanofiber fragments, of various matrix materials, including metal(s) (e.g., elemental metal(s), metal alloy(s), etc.), metal oxide(s), ceramic(s), metal carbide(s), carbon (e.g., carbon nanocomposites comprising carbon matrix with metal component embedded therein), and/or combinations thereof.

[0009] Alternatively, the laser spinning technique (as disclosed in patent document ES2223290B1 and in QUINTERO, F. et al., "Production of glass nanofibres by a novel technique: Laser Spinning", NanoSpain2010) is presented as an effective method for producing amorphous ceramic nanofibers. This technique overcomes the limitations of conventional methods for producing glass fibers, as it allows producing nanofibers having various compositions, including those having a high melting point, as well as those that generate a fragile melt or have a high propensity for devitrification. The nanofibers produced with the "laser spinning" technique have a cylindrical, solid morphology without porosity, separated from one another, such that they can be separated, ordered, and woven. The "laser spinning" technique essentially consists of melting a small volume of a solid precursor by means of a high-power laser, while a supersonic gas jet is injected into the melting area. This gas jet entrains the molten material, causing it to be elongated and cooled in an extremely quick manner, which produces the amorphous nanofibers with the same composition as the precursor material, in large amounts and in a very short time. Nevertheless, this technique also has some limitations: the produced fibers do not all have the same diameter, but rather differ from one another. On the other hand, the lengths of the nanofibers are limited to the centimeter range. Furthermore, the nanofibers that are obtained are mixed with small drops of molten material that must be removed before use.

[0010] There is therefore a need in the state of the art for new methods that allow manufacturing solid, continuous, and non-porous fibers having a controlled diameter in the nanoscale range and with indefinitely long lengths.

Brief Description of the Invention



[0011] The present invention provides a method for producing solid, continuous, and non-porous fibers with a controlled diameter in the nanoscale range and with indefinitely long lengths. This method is based on the micromelting of a preform made from a precursor material with a high-power laser to generate a microfilament made of molten material. At the same time, a gas jet fed in a coaxial manner with respect to the microfilament at a high speed causes the elongation and cooling thereof.

[0012] In a first aspect, the present invention provides a method suitable for producing continuous nanofibers without electrospinning-assistance, characterized in that it comprises the following steps:
  1. a) providing a preform made from a precursor material with an elongated shape and longitudinally moving the preform at a uniform speed toward a processing area,
  2. b) as the preform made from a precursor material reaches the processing area maintaining a uniform speed, continuously applying laser radiation on the region of the preform that is entering the processing area for heating to a suitable melting temperature, and
  3. c) continuously applying gas in a coaxial manner with respect to the precursor material melt and in the same direction of movement, such that by the combined action of the heating produced by the laser radiation and the coaxial application of the gas, uniaxial drawing of the precursor material melt in the direction of movement takes place in the processing area, its diameter thereby being reduced, and
  4. d) as the precursor material melt of reduced diameter exits the processing area, said melt continues to be drawn by the action of the coaxial gas and is cooled, being solidified, until forming a nanofiber.


[0013] The advantage of this method compared to the melt blowing method is that in the present invention, the laser beam heating process as well as the gas jet cooling process take place much more quickly than in the melt blowing method. As a result, the heating can be performed up to higher temperatures without the flow breaking due to the effect of instabilities or capillary forces, since the heating and cooling processes are much faster than breaking flows. Performing the method at a higher temperature furthermore involves the advantage of the viscosity of the fluid filament being lower; therefore, elongation takes place very quickly, and the diameter of the preform made from a precursor material can accordingly be reduced by factors of less than 1/1000. Nanoscale diameters can thereby be attained without the filament breaking or crystallizing.

[0014] As regards the laser spinning technique, there are considerable differences in the method of performing it, the experimental configuration, and the results. Firstly, in the laser spinning technique, the precursor material must have a planar and non-elongated plate shape. In the laser spinning technique, the combined action of the laser beam and the gas jet produce a cut or furrow in a solid plate made of the precursor material. The laser beam strikes the planar plate made of precursor material in a perpendicular manner and the gas jet strikes the plate in an oblique manner, in turn forming a certain angle with the laser beam. In said method, the nanofibers are produced from a small volume of molten material generated in said cut or furrow in the plate made of precursor material. This sometimes entails making little use of the precursor material and a vague control of the diameters of the nanofibers. In contrast, in the method of the present invention, one or more laser beams irradiate an elongated (for example, cylindrical or substantially cylindrical) preform, which is provided with a uniform speed, from one or more directions and in a perpendicular or slightly oblique manner. Meanwhile, the gas jet surrounds the processing area flowing in a coaxial direction with respect to the molten filament. The entire volume of the preform made from a precursor material reaching the processing area is thereby transformed into a nanofiber, so use is made of 100% of the precursor material.

[0015] On the other hand, the fibers obtained by means of the laser spinning technique are accompanied by small drops of molten material that must be removed before their practical utilization.

[0016] By way of example, a cylindrical preform having a circular section of 600 micrometers in diameter and one meter in length could be transformed into a fiber of 300 nanometers in diameter and 4×106 meters. Furthermore, the method of the present invention allows the precise control of the diameter of the fibers produced by means of suitably selecting the parameters of the precursor material, laser beam heating, and the regime of the coaxial gas jet which causes their cooling and elongation.

[0017] In reference to the results, this is the only known technique to date that allows obtaining continuous nanofibers with an indefinitely long length from materials with a high melting point without using precursors that are chemically different from the product. In this sense, it presents a clear advantage with respect to the electrospinning technique, given that materials with a low melting point or chemical precursors in the form of sol-gel must be used in the electrospinning technique. In contrast, in the method object of the present invention, the fibers are obtained directly from a process that involves melting a precursor material with the same chemical composition as the product, so the drawbacks derived from curing and calcining a sol-gel precursor do not arise.

[0018] In a second aspect, the invention relates to the nanofibers obtained according to the defined method having a diameter comprised between 1 and 900 nm and a length comprised between 1 cm and 4x106 m. As indicated above, the nanofibers obtained by the method of the present invention are advantageously solid, continuous, and non-porous.

[0019] Specifically, the nanofibers obtained by the method of the invention are solid, non-porous, and continuous; furthermore, there are no restrictions as regards the chemical composition of the product on the grounds of incompatibilities of the precursors. Other advantages of the product obtained with the present invention compared to electrospinning is that the obtained fibers are completely separated from one another and are long and flexible, so they can be ordered, aligned, and woven.

[0020] In another aspect, the present invention provides a device for producing fibers according to the method of the invention, wherein the devices comprises:
  1. a) a processing head comprising:
    • means for housing a preform made from a precursor material with an elongated shape and moving it longitudinally at a uniform speed toward a processing area, and
    • means for applying gas in a coaxial manner with respect to the material and in the same direction of movement in the processing area and as it exits same; and
  2. b) a set of optical systems suitable for focusing laser radiation on the precursor material as it enters the processing area.


[0021] The nanoscale fibers obtained by means of the method object of the present invention can be used for making fire-resistant fabrics, as a polymer reinforcement for manufacturing composites, as a base material for different types of cells in tissue engineering, for bone regeneration, for mucosa regeneration, for skin regeneration, for cartilage regeneration, or for manufacturing active bifunctional and recyclable filters.

Description of the Drawings



[0022] To complement the description that is being made and for the purpose of helping to better understand the features of the invention, the following drawings are attached as an integral part of said description, in which the fundamental elements of the experimental assembly have been depicted in an illustrative and schematic manner according to different practical examples.

Figure 1 schematically depicts by way of a cross-section a processing head (2) of a device according to an embodiment of the present invention for injecting gas (4) in a coaxial manner (8) with respect to the flow of precursor material (1). Two laser beams (6 and 7) irradiating the preform made from the precursor material in the processing area (3) from opposite directions, obtaining a microfilament, are also depicted. The reduction of the diameter of the preform in the processing area (3) until producing a continuous nanoscale fiber (9) at the outlet is also schematically shown.

Figure 2 schematically depicts two plan and elevational views of the configuration of the optical elements required for carrying out the experimental assembly of a device according to an embodiment of the present invention. In the diagram, two laser radiation beams (10) and (11) are aimed at respective total reflection mirrors (12) and (13). The propagation of both beams (16) and (17) is modified by means of respective identical optical instruments (18) and (19) to achieve desired irradiance on the preform (14). The drawing shows the preform emerging from the processing head (15), and the processing area irradiated by the two beams in opposite directions (angle of 180° with respect to one another in the horizontal plane) where transformation of the preform made from the precursor material into a continuous and nanoscale fiber (20) takes place.

Figure 3 schematically depicts a plan view of an experimental assembly of a device according to an embodiment of the present invention in which the processing area is irradiated by three identical laser beams (21), (22), and (23). The three beams are aimed at the preform (24) from directions forming an angle of 120° with respect to one another in the horizontal plane. The preform (24) is located concentrically with respect to the processing head (25). The propagation of the three beams (21), (22), and (23) is modified by means of respective identical optical instruments (26), (27), and (28). The preform made from the precursor material is transformed into a continuous and nanoscale fiber (29).

Figure 4 schematically depicts a plan view of an experimental assembly of a device according to an embodiment of the present invention in which the processing area is irradiated by four identical laser beams (30), (31), (32), and (33) forming an angle of 90° with respect to one another in the horizontal plane. The laser radiations are aimed at the preform (34) which is located concentrically with respect to the processing head (35). The propagation of the four beams (30), (31), (32), and (33) is modified by means of respective identical optical instruments (36), (37), (38), and (39). The preform made from the precursor material is transformed into a continuous and nanoscale fiber (40).


Detailed Description of the Invention


Method



[0023] The present invention provides a method suitable for producing continuous nanofibers with an indefinitely long length, characterized in that it comprises the following steps:
  1. a) providing a preform made from a precursor material with an elongated shape and longitudinally moving the preform at a uniform speed toward a processing area,
  2. b) as the preform made from a precursor material reaches the processing area maintaining a uniform speed, continuously applying laser radiation on the region of the preform that is entering the processing area for heating to a suitable melting temperature, and
  3. c) continuously applying gas in a coaxial manner with respect to the precursor material melt and in the same direction of movement,
    such that by the combined action of the heating produced by the laser radiation and the coaxial application of the gas, uniaxial drawing of the precursor material melt in the direction of movement takes place in the processing area, its diameter thereby being reduced, and
  4. d) as the precursor material melt of reduced diameter exits the processing area, said melt continues to be drawn by the action of the coaxial gas and is cooled, being solidified, until forming a nanofiber.


[0024] In the context of the present invention, the precursor material is preferably an inorganic glass, a polymer, a ceramic material, a metal, or a metal oxide, the rheological behavior of which varies with temperature, such that when it is heated by laser radiation, it reaches a suitable viscosity to surface tension ratio. In a particular embodiment, the precursor material is selected from the group consisting of silica, phosphate glass, and polymers such as polylactic acid (PLA) or polycaprolactone (PCL). In a more particular embodiment, the precursor material is silica. The optimal viscosity to favor drawing of the preform made from a precursor material to form a nanoscale fiber depends on the properties of each precursor material. Said optimal viscosity must be low enough so as to allow a rapid flow of uniaxial elongation of the preform by the entraining effect caused by the process gas. At the same time, the viscosity must be kept high enough so that the surface tension does not cause the filament to break due to the action of capillary forces.

[0025] The precursor material can be in liquid, semi-solid, or solid state. In a preferred embodiment, the precursor material is in solid or semi-solid state. Nevertheless, the precursor material can also be provided in a completely molten state, and it is then considered a liquid.

[0026] The precursor material has an elongated shape. In the context of the present invention, "elongated shape" is understood as the stretched out shape in which one dimension is greater than the other two dimensions. Said elongated shape can have, for example, a circular section, triangular section, elliptical section, square section, rectangular section, or any other polygonal section. In a particular embodiment, the preform made from the precursor material has a substantially cylindrical or substantially rectangular prism shape.

[0027] In a particular embodiment, the preform made from a precursor material is a cylinder with a circular section having a diameter comprised between about 1 µm and about 10 mm, preferably between about 5 µm and about 5 mm, more preferably between about 10 µm and about 1 mm. In a preferred embodiment, the diameter of the section is comprised between about 100 µm and about 700 µm, preferably between about 200 µm and about 600 µm, more preferably between about 300 µm and about 600 µm. In a preferred embodiment, the preform made from a precursor material is a cylinder with a circular section having a diameter of about 600 µm. In another preferred embodiment, the precursor material is a silica cylinder with a circular section having a diameter of about 600 µm.

[0028] The preform made from a precursor material is provided to or fed into the processing area at a uniform speed. In the context of the present invention, uniform speed is understood as a speed that is kept constant throughout the entire process. In a particular embodiment, the uniform speed at which the preform is provided is comprised between about 0.01 and about 100 µm/s, preferably between about 0.1 and about 50 µm/s, more preferably between about 0.5 and about 10 µm/s. In a preferred embodiment, the uniform speed at which the preform is provided is about 1 µm/s.

[0029] As the preform made from a precursor material reaches the processing area maintaining a uniform speed, laser radiation is continuously applied on the region of the preform that is entering the processing area for heating to a suitable melting temperature, a microscale melt volume being obtained. In a particular embodiment, the precursor material is melted and/or heated into a microscale volume comprised between 10 and 900 cubic micrometers, preferably into a microscale volume comprised between 100 and 800 cubic micrometers, more preferably between 200 and 600 cubic micrometers, even more preferably between 300 and 500 cubic micrometers.

[0030] In a particular embodiment, in step b) of the method of the invention a high-power laser is used to melt and/or raise the temperature of the precursor material. The laser radiation is preferably generated from a laser source selected from Nd:YAG, Nd:glass, Nd:vanadate, Er:YAG, Yb:YAG, Tm:YAG, diode, fiber, disc, CO2, CO, HeCd, copper vapor laser, iodine laser, argon laser, krypton laser, and chemical lasers (HF, DF). The power of the laser source is preferably at least 300 W. In a preferred embodiment, the laser equipment used is a CO2 laser (λ=10.6 µm) emitting a radiant flux of 950 W.

[0031] The laser radiation strikes the precursor material from one or more directions so that it can be absorbed into the precursor material in a uniform manner with respect to the axis of symmetry of the precursor material. In a particular embodiment, the laser radiation of step b) comes from two laser beams. The two laser beams are preferably identical. In a preferred embodiment, the two laser beams are facing one another forming an angle of about 180°. More preferably, the laser radiation of step b) of the method comes from two facing identical laser beams forming an angle of about 180°. Figure 1 schematically depicts a processing head for carrying out the method of the invention where two laser beams irradiate the preform made from the precursor material in the processing area from opposite directions. Likewise, Figure 2 schematically depicts the processing area being irradiated by two beams in opposite directions.

[0032] In an alternative embodiment, the laser radiation of step b) comes from three laser beams. The three laser beams are preferably identical. In a preferred embodiment, the three laser beams are located forming an angle of about 120° with respect to one another. More preferably, the laser radiation of step b) comes from three identical laser beams forming an angle of about 120° with respect to one another. Figure 3 schematically depicts the processing area being irradiated by three identical laser beams.

[0033] In an alternative embodiment, the laser radiation of step b) comes from four laser beams. The four laser beams are preferably identical. In a preferred embodiment, the four laser beams are located forming an angle of about 90° with respect to one another. More preferably, the laser radiation of step b) comes from four identical laser beams forming an angle of about 90° with respect to one another. Figure 4 schematically depicts the processing area being irradiated by four identical laser beams.

[0034] Absorption of the laser radiation by the precursor material causes the extremely rapid melting of the solid or semi-solid precursor material at a temperature above the melting point or glass transition temperature, or else the heating of the precursor material if it is already in liquid state.

[0035] According to step c) of the method of the invention, a gas jet is continuously applied in a coaxial manner with respect to the precursor material melt and in the same direction of movement. The gas jet is coaxially fed at a high speed, which can be supersonic and is conventionally comprised between about 300 and about 900 m/s, such as about 515 m/s, for example, which is equivalent to 1.5 times the speed of sound. In a particular embodiment, the process gas is compressed air, such as compressed air supplied at a gauge pressure of about 300 kPa, for example. The combined action of the heating produced by the laser radiation and the coaxial application of the gas, uniaxial drawing of the precursor material melt in the direction of movement takes place in the processing area, its diameter thereby being reduced until obtaining a microfilament made of the precursor material melt. Additionally, a force can be applied to favor microfilament formation. In the context of the present invention, the force exerted on the precursor material is generally the force of gravity or an external pulling force.

[0036] In step d) of the method of the invention, as the microfilament made of molten material obtained in step c) exits the processing area, it continues to be drawn continuously by the action of the coaxial gas that surrounds its entire perimeter. The high-speed gas jet causes rapid elongation, and after the molten material has exited the area of action of the laser radiation, it is cooled and a solid, continuous, and nanoscale-sized fiber is formed. The obtained fiber is cooled by convection of the heat of the high-speed gas flow on the surface of the nanofiber.

[0037] In a particular embodiment, the continuous supply of precursor material flow to the processing area, together with the continuous and uniform heating thereof by the laser beam, and the continuous flow of the coaxial gas jet, all in a suitable ratio, establish a stationary regime in the heating, elongation, and cooling process. This stationary regime in the processing area entails the continuous transformation of the preform made from the precursor material into a fiber having a nanoscale diameter with an indefinite length, solely limited by the process duration and speed.

Nanofibers



[0038] In another aspect, the invention relates to the nanofiber obtained according to the method of the invention. In a particular embodiment, the nanofiber obtained according to the method of the invention has a nanoscale diameter, for example a diameter comprised between about 1 and about 900 nm, and an "indefinitely long" length, for example a length comprised between about 1 cm and about 4x106 m. According to particular embodiments, the nanofiber obtained according to the method of the invention has a diameter of from about 1, 50, or 100 nm to about 700, 500, or 300 nm. In a particular embodiment, the diameter is about 300 nm. According to particular embodiments, the nanofiber obtained according to the method of the invention has a length from about 1, 100, or 1000 cm to about 5, 10, 100, or 1000 m. The nanofiber obtained according to the method of the invention preferably has a diameter comprised between about 1 and about 500 nm and a length comprised between about 1 and about 5 m.

[0039] The nanofibers obtained by the method of the present invention are advantageously solid, continuous, and non-porous.

Device



[0040] The present invention provides a device for carrying out the method of the invention for producing continuous fibers. Therefore, in a particular aspect the invention relates to the device for producing fibers according to the method of the invention, wherein the device comprises:
  1. a) a processing head comprising:
    • means for housing a preform made from a precursor material with an elongated shape and moving it longitudinally at a uniform speed toward a processing area, and
    • means for applying gas in a coaxial manner with respect to the material and in the same direction of movement in the processing area and as it exits same; and
  2. b) a set of optical systems suitable for focusing laser radiation on the precursor material as it enters the processing area.


[0041] The processing head of the device of the present invention allows housing the precursor material and moving it toward the processing area where laser radiation on the precursor material takes place. Furthermore, the processing head allows injecting the process gas in a coaxial manner with respect to the precursor material flow. In a particular embodiment, the processing head contains an annular conduit through which the process gas flows in a coaxial manner with respect to the microfilament, surrounding it along its entire perimeter. The high-speed gas jet causes rapid elongation and cooling of the molten material, forming a solid, continuous, and nanoscale-sized fiber.

[0042] In a particular embodiment, the device of the invention contains a set of optical systems focusing at least one laser radiation on the precursor material, preferably two laser radiations, more preferably three laser radiations. The set of optical systems is preferably formed by mirrors oriented for aiming the laser radiation at the processing area.

[0043] The laser radiation can come from any laser equipment generating radiation with a wavelength suitable for being absorbed and transformed into heat in the precursor material and with a large enough emission power to cause the heating of the preform throughout the entire elongation process. The suitable wavelength and operating mode (continuous or pulsed) will be selected depending on the materials to be processed. So in a particular embodiment, the laser radiation in the device of the invention will be continuous or pulsed.

[0044] In a particular embodiment, the laser radiation of the device of the invention is selected from Nd:YAG, Nd:glass, Nd:vanadate, Er:YAG, Yb:YAG, Tm:YAG, diode, fiber, disc, CO2, CO, HeCd, copper vapor laser, iodine laser, argon laser, krypton laser, or chemical lasers (HF, DF).

[0045] Figure 1 shows a processing head suitable for the device of the present invention. The precursor material (1) is fed continuously into a conduit inside the processing head (2). The precursor material is supplied in the form of a solid or melted cylinder with a flow rate precisely controlled by means of a feed system that is not described or shown in the diagram. The processing head guides the preform made from the precursor material toward the processing area (3), keeping the coaxial position thereof aligned with the axis (8) of the head and limiting oscillations thereof. At the same time, the process gas is injected from the rear part of the processing head into an annular conduit (4) that is coaxial with the conduit of the precursor material and completely surrounds it. Said conduit is designed to expand the gas until reaching a high flow rate which can be supersonic and forms a jet (5) with low turbulence at the outlet of the processing head. The process gas flow is designed to surround the preform in the processing area, producing very rapid entraining and cooling effects due to the effect of high friction and high heat convection of the high-speed gas flow on the surface of the preform.

[0046] In a particular embodiment, in the device of the invention the laser radiation comes from two identical laser beams, with the two identical laser beams more preferably arranged facing one another forming an angle of about 180°. The two laser beams (6) and (7) with the same radiant flux and the same distribution of irradiance of the laser radiation in their respective cross-sections preferably strike the preform in the processing area from diametrically opposed directions. Both beams are duly aimed at the preform made from the precursor material to produce a symmetrical distribution of irradiance with respect to the midplane containing the axis (8) and it is transverse to the plane of incidence of both beams. The distribution of irradiance of both beams on the preform is adjusted by means of the set of optical systems of the device of the invention to achieve heating the preform in the processing area. Under the combined action of the heating produced by the two laser beams (6) and (7) and the entraining produced by the coaxial gas jet (5), the preform experiences rapid uniaxial elongation in the direction of the axis (8). Its diameter is thereby reduced continuously in the processing area (3) until generating a continuous nanoscale filament (9). Likewise, the rapid cooling this filament experiences as soon as it exits the area irradiated by the laser beams solidifies the fluid filament, forming a dense and continuous nanoscale fiber.

[0047] Figure 2 shows an example of the assembly of the optical elements required for producing a suitable distribution of irradiance of the laser beams in the processing area to achieve process stability. Two laser radiation beams (10) and (11) with the same wavelength, the same radiant flux, and the same transverse distribution of irradiance are aimed at respective total reflection mirrors (12) and (13). Said mirrors are used to make it easier to align both beams such that they strike the preform made from the precursor material (14) from opposite directions and symmetrically with respect to the axis thereof. This diagram shows the preform emerging from the processing head (15). The propagation of both beams (16) and (17) is modified by means of respective identical optical instruments (18) and (19) to achieve the suitable distribution of irradiance in the processing area. Both optical instruments are made up of a combination of converging and/or diverging, spherical and/or cylindrical lenses located such that the desired distribution of irradiance on the preform (14) is achieved. The heating generated by the absorption of the radiation of the laser beams in the precursor material, combined with the friction and cooling caused by the process gas flow (not depicted in this diagram), produce the transformation of the preform made from the precursor material into a continuous and nanoscale fiber (20).

[0048] In a particular embodiment, in the device of the invention the laser radiation comes from three identical laser beams forming an angle of about 120° with respect to one another. As an alternative to the aforementioned configuration, Figure 3 schematically depicts a plan view of an experimental assembly in which the processing area is irradiated by three identical laser beams. Three laser radiation beams (21), (22), and (23) with the same wavelength, the same radiant flux, and the same transverse distribution of irradiance are aimed at the preform (24) from directions forming an angle of 120° with respect to one another in the horizontal plane, as shown in the drawing. A distribution of irradiance in the cross-section of the preform that is more homogenous than that achieved with the aforementioned configuration of two beams is thereby achieved. This diagram shows the preform being concentric with respect to the processing head (25). The propagation of the three beams (21), (22), and (23) is modified by means of respective identical optical instruments (26), (27), and (28) to achieve the suitable distribution of irradiance in the processing area. Said optical instruments are made up of a combination of converging and/or diverging, spherical and/or cylindrical lenses located such that the desired distribution of irradiance on the preform (24) is achieved. The heating generated by the absorption of the radiation of the laser beams in the precursor material, combined with the friction and cooling caused by the process gas flow (not depicted in this diagram), produce the transformation of the preform made from the precursor material into a continuous and nanoscale fiber (29).

[0049] In another particular embodiment, in the device of the invention the laser radiation comes from four identical laser beams forming an angle of about 90° with respect to one another. Figure 4 schematically depicts a plan view of another alternative configuration in which the processing area is irradiated by four identical laser beams. Four laser radiation beams (30), (31), (32), and (33) with the same wavelength, the same radiant flux, and the same transverse distribution of irradiance are aimed at the preform (34) from directions forming an angle of 90° with respect to one another in the horizontal plane, as shown in the drawing. A distribution of irradiance in the cross-section of the preform that is more homogenous than that achieved with the aforementioned configurations of two and three beams is thereby achieved. This diagram shows the preform being concentric with respect to the processing head (35). The propagation of the four beams (30), (31), (32), and (33) is modified by means of respective identical optical instruments (36), (37), (38), and (39) to achieve the suitable distribution of irradiance in the processing area. Said optical instruments are made up of a combination of converging and/or diverging, spherical and/or cylindrical lenses located such that the desired distribution of irradiance on the preform (34) is achieved. The heating generated by the absorption of the radiation of the laser beams in the precursor material, combined with the friction and cooling caused by the process gas flow (not depicted in this diagram), produce the transformation of the preform made from the precursor material into a continuous and nanoscale fiber (40).

[0050] In a particular embodiment, the device further comprises a laser radiation source, preferably two laser radiation sources, more preferably three or four laser radiation sources.

[0051] As it is used herein, the term "about" means a slight variation of the specified value, preferably within 10 percent of the specified value. Nevertheless, the term "about" can mean a higher tolerance of the variation depending on the experimental technique used, for example. One skilled in the art understands said variations of a specified value and they are within the context of the present invention. Furthermore, in order to provide a more concise description, some of the quantitative expressions provided herein are not qualified with the term "about". It is understood that whether or not the term "about" is used, the intention is for all the amounts provided herein to refer to the given actual value, and they are also intended to refer to the approximation to such given value that would be reasonably deduced based on the usual experience in the art, including equivalents and approximations due to experimental and/or measurement conditions for such given value.

Example



[0052] Continuous pure silica nanofibers with an indefinitely long length having a cylindrical cross-section and a uniform diameter of 300 nanometers were produced at a rate of 4 m/s. The precursor material was a cylindrical pure silica preform 600 micrometers in diameter that was fed into the processing area at a rate of 1 µm/s. A processing head with a conduit for the process gas designed to expand said gas until obtaining a supersonic flow of about Mach 1.5 was used. The process gas is compressed air supplied at a gauge pressure of 300 kPa. The laser equipment used was a CO2 laser (λ = 10.6 pm) emitting a beam with a radiant flux of 950 W with a Gaussian distribution of irradiance in continuous mode. Said beam was split into two beams having an identical radiant flux, 475 W each. Each beam was aimed at the processing area by means of respective copper mirrors with an angle of 160° between them (in the vertical plan) on the precursor material inlet side. Before striking the processing area, each beam was transformed by respective identical optical instruments each formed by a spherical lens and another cylindrical lens. Said optical instruments produced a distribution of radiation of each beam in an approximately elliptical section of axes of 30 mm and 2 mm centered on the processing area, such that the direction of the larger side of said ellipse coincided with the direction of the axis of the preform.

[0053] Having sufficiently described the nature of the present invention as well as the manner of putting it into practice all that is left to add is that changes to the shape, materials, and arrangement with respect to its assembly and the parts forming can be made provided that said alterations do not substantially change said invention.


Claims

1. A method for producing a continuous nanofiber without electrospinning-assistance, characterized in that it comprises the following steps:

a) providing a preform made from a precursor material with an elongated shape and longitudinally moving the preform at a uniform speed towards a processing area,

b) as the preform made from a precursor material reaches the processing area maintaining a uniform speed, continuously applying laser radiation on the region of the preform that is entering the processing area for heating to a suitable melting temperature, and

c) continuously applying gas in a coaxial manner with respect to the precursor material melt and in the same direction of movement,
such that by the combined action of the heating produced by the laser radiation and the coaxial application of the gas, uniaxial drawing of the precursor material melt in the direction of movement takes place in the processing area, its diameter thereby being reduced, and

d) as the precursor material melt of reduced diameter exits the processing area, said melt continues to be drawn by the action of the coaxial gas and is cooled, being solidified, until forming a nanofiber.


 
2. The method according to claim 1, wherein the laser radiation of step b) comes from:

- two facing identical laser beams forming an angle of about 180° with respect to one another in the horizontal plane,

- three identical laser beams forming an angle of about 120° with respect to one another in the horizontal plane, or

- four identical laser beams forming an angle of about 90° with respect to one another in the horizontal plane.


 
3. The method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the precursor material is selected from the group consisting of an inorganic glass, a polymer, a ceramic material, a metal, and a metal oxide.
 
4. The method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the laser source used to generate the laser radiation is selected from Nd:YAG, Nd:glass, Nd:vanadate, Er:YAG, Yb:YAG, Tm:YAG, diode, fiber, disc, CO2, CO, HeCd, copper vapor laser, iodine laser, argon laser, krypton laser, or chemical lasers (HF, DF).
 
5. The method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the coaxial gas is applied at a speed comprised between 300 and 900 m/s.
 
6. The method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the preform precursor material is a silica cylinder with a circular section having a diameter of 600 µm.
 
7. The method according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the speed of movement of the preform toward the processing area is comprised between 0.01 and 100 µm/s.
 
8. A nanofiber obtained according to the method defined in any of the preceding claims having a diameter comprised between 1 and 900 nm, and a length comprised between 1 cm and 4x106 m.
 
9. The nanofiber according to claim 8 having a diameter comprised between 1 and 500 nm, and a length comprised between 1 and 5 m.
 
10. A device for producing fibers (9, 20, 29, 40) according to the method defined in claims 1 to 7, wherein the device comprises:

a) a processing head (2, 15, 25, 35) comprising:

- means for housing a preform (14, 24, 34) made from a precursor material (1) with an elongated shape and moving it longitudinally at a uniform speed toward a processing area (3), and

- means (4) for applying gas in a coaxial manner with respect to the material and in the same direction of movement in the processing area (3) and as it exits same; and

b) a set of optical systems (18, 19, 26, 27, 28, 36, 37, 38, 39) suitable for focusing laser radiation on the precursor material (1) as it enters the processing area.


 
11. The device according to claim 10, wherein the laser radiation comes from:

- two facing identical laser beams forming an angle of about 180° with respect to one another in the horizontal plane,

- three identical laser beams forming an angle of about 120° with respect to one another in the horizontal plane, or

- four identical laser beams forming an angle of about 90° with respect to one another in the horizontal plane.


 
12. The device according to any of claims 10 or 11, wherein the laser radiation is generated from a laser source selected from Nd:YAG, Nd:glass, Nd:vanadate, Er:YAG, Yb:YAG, Tm:YAG, diode, fiber, disc, CO2, CO, HeCd, copper vapor laser, iodine laser, argon laser, krypton laser, and chemical lasers (HF, DF).
 
13. Use of the nanofiber according to claims 8 and 9:

- for making fire-resistant fabrics,

- as a polymer reinforcement for manufacturing composites,

- for bone regeneration,

- for manufacturing active bifunctional and recyclable filters,

- as a base material for different types of cells in tissue engineering,

- for mucosa regeneration,

- for skin regeneration, or

- for cartilage regeneration.


 


Ansprüche

1. Verfahren zur Herstellung einer Endlos-Nanofaser ohne Elektrospinn-Unterstützung, dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass es die folgenden Schritte umfasst:

a) Bereitstellen einer aus einem Vorläufermaterial hergestellten Vorform mit einer länglichen Form und Bewegen der Vorform in Längsrichtung mit gleichmäßiger Geschwindigkeit zu einem Verarbeitungsbereich,

b) wenn die aus einem Vorläufermaterial hergestellte Vorform den Verarbeitungsbereich unter Beibehaltung einer gleichmäßigen Geschwindigkeit erreicht, kontinuierliches Bestrahlen des Bereichs der Vorform, der in den Verarbeitungsbereich eintritt, mit Laserstrahlung zum Erhitzen auf eine geeignete Schmelztemperatur, und

c) kontinuierliches Einleiten von Gas in einer koaxialen Weise in Bezug auf die Schmelze des Vorläufermaterials und in derselben Bewegungsrichtung,
so dass durch die kombinierte Wirkung des Erhitzens, das durch die Laserstrahlung bewirkt wird, und die koaxiale Einleitung des Gases, im Verarbeitungsbereich eine uniaxiale Streckung der Schmelze des Vorläufermaterials in der Bewegungsrichtung stattfindet, wodurch ihr Durchmesser reduziert wird, und

d) wenn die Schmelze des Vorläufermaterials mit dem reduzierten Durchmesser den Verarbeitungsbereich verlässt, wird die Schmelze durch die Wirkung des koaxialen Gases immer noch gestreckt und wird abgekühlt, wobei sie erstarrt, bis eine Nanofaser entsteht.


 
2. Verfahren gemäß Anspruch 1, wobei die Laserstrahlung von Schritt b) aus Folgenden kommt:

- zwei einander zugewandten identischen Laserstrahlen, die einen Winkel von etwa 180° in Bezug aufeinander in der horizontalen Ebene bilden,

- drei identischen Laserstrahlen, die einen Winkel von etwa 120° in Bezug aufeinander in der horizontalen Ebene bilden, oder

- vier identischen Laserstrahlen, die einen Winkel von etwa 90° in Bezug aufeinander in der horizontalen Ebene bilden.


 
3. Verfahren gemäß einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, wobei das Vorläufermaterial aus der Gruppe ausgewählt ist, die aus einem anorganischen Glas, einem Polymer, einem Keramikmaterial, einem Metall und einem Metalloxid besteht.
 
4. Verfahren gemäß einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, wobei die zur Erzeugung der Laserstrahlung verwendete Laserquelle aus Nd:YAG, Nd:Glas, Nd:Vanadat, Er:YAG, Yb:YAG, Tm:YAG, Diode, Faser, Scheibe, CO2, CO, HeCd, Kupferdampflaser, Iodlaser, Argonlaser, Kryptonlaser oder chemischen Lasern (HF, DF) ausgewählt ist.
 
5. Verfahren gemäß einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, wobei das koaxiale Gas mit einer Geschwindigkeit zwischen 300 und 900 m/s eingeleitet wird.
 
6. Verfahren gemäß einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, wobei das Vorform-Vorläufermaterial ein Siliciumoxidzylinder mit einem kreisförmigen Querschnitt mit einem Durchmesser von 600 µm ist.
 
7. Verfahren gemäß einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche, wobei die Geschwindigkeit der Bewegung der Vorform zum Verarbeitungsbereich zwischen 0,01 und 100 µm/s liegt.
 
8. Nanofaser, erhalten nach dem Verfahren, das in einem der vorstehenden Ansprüche definiert ist, mit einem Durchmesser zwischen 1 und 900 nm und einer Länge zwischen 1 cm und 4 x 106 m.
 
9. Nanofaser gemäß Anspruch 8 mit einem Durchmesser zwischen 1 und 500 nm und einer Länge zwischen 1 und 5 m.
 
10. Vorrichtung zur Herstellung von Fasern (9, 20, 29, 40) nach dem Verfahren, das in den Ansprüchen 1 bis 7 definiert ist, wobei die Vorrichtung umfasst:

a) einen Verarbeitungskopf (2, 15, 25, 35), umfassend:

- Einrichtungen zur Unterbringung einer aus einem Vorläufermaterial (1) hergestellten Vorform (14, 24, 34) mit einer länglichen Form und zum Bewegen derselben in Längsrichtung mit gleichmäßiger Geschwindigkeit zu einem Verarbeitungsbereich (3), und

- Einrichtungen (4) zum Einleiten von Gas in einer koaxialen Weise in Bezug auf das Material und in derselben Bewegungsrichtung im Verarbeitungsbereich (3) und beim Verlassen desselben; und

b) eine Menge von optischen Systemen (18, 19, 26, 27, 28, 36, 37, 38, 39), die geeignet sind, Laserstrahlung auf das Vorläufermaterial (1) zu fokussieren, während es in den Verarbeitungsbereich eintritt.


 
11. Vorrichtung gemäß Anspruch 10, wobei die Laserstrahlung aus Folgenden kommt:

- zwei einander zugewandten identischen Laserstrahlen, die einen Winkel von etwa 180° in Bezug aufeinander in der horizontalen Ebene bilden,

- drei identischen Laserstrahlen, die einen Winkel von etwa 120° in Bezug aufeinander in der horizontalen Ebene bilden, oder

- vier identischen Laserstrahlen, die einen Winkel von etwa 90° in Bezug aufeinander in der horizontalen Ebene bilden.


 
12. Vorrichtung gemäß einem der Ansprüche 10 oder 11, wobei die Laserstrahlung durch eine Laserquelle erzeugt wird, die aus Nd:YAG, Nd:Glas, Nd:Vanadat, Er:YAG, Yb:YAG, Tm:YAG, Diode, Faser, Scheibe, CO2, CO, HeCd, Kupferdampflaser, Iodlaser, Argonlaser, Kryptonlaser oder chemischen Lasern (HF, DF) ausgewählt ist.
 
13. Verwendung der Nanofaser gemäß Anspruch 8 und 9:

- zur Herstellung von feuerfesten Textilien,

- als Polymerverstärkung zur Herstellung von Verbundstoffen,

- zur Knochenregeneration,

- zur Herstellung von aktiven bifunktionellen und recycelbaren Filtern,

- als Basismaterial für verschiedene Arten von Zellen beim Tissue-Engineering,

- zur Schleimhautregeneration,

- zur Hautregeneration, oder

- zur Knorpelregeneration.


 


Revendications

1. Un procédé de production d'une nanofibre continue sans assistance d'électrofilage, caractérisé en ce qu'il comprend les étapes suivantes :

a) le fait de prévoir une préforme faite d'un matériau précurseur ayant une forme allongée et le fait de déplacer longitudinalement la préforme à une vitesse uniforme vers une zone de traitement,

b) lorsque la préforme fabriquée à partir d'un matériau précurseur atteint la zone de traitement en maintenant une vitesse uniforme, le fait d'appliquer en continu un rayonnement laser sur la zone de la préforme qui entre dans la zone de traitement de façon à ce qu'elle soit chauffée à une température de fusion appropriée, et

c) le fait d'appliquer en continu du gaz de manière coaxiale par rapport au matériau précurseur fondu et dans le même sens de déplacement,
de telle sorte que, par l'action combinée du chauffage produit par le rayonnement laser et de l'application coaxiale du gaz, un étirage uniaxial du matériau précurseur fondu dans la direction du mouvement ait lieu dans la zone de traitement, son diamètre étant ainsi réduit, et

d) lorsque le matériau précurseur fondu de diamètre réduit sort de la zone de traitement, ledit matériau fondu continue à être étiré par l'action du gaz coaxial et est refroidi, en se solidifiant, jusqu'à former une nanofibre.


 
2. Le procédé selon la revendication 1, dans lequel le rayonnement laser de l'étape b) provient :

- de deux faisceaux laser identiques en regard faisant un angle d'environ 180° l'un par rapport à l'autre dans le plan horizontal,

- de trois faisceaux laser identiques formant un angle d'environ 120° l'un par rapport à l'autre dans le plan horizontal, ou

- de quatre faisceaux laser identiques formant un angle d'environ 90° les uns par rapport aux autres dans le plan horizontal.


 
3. Le procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel le matériau précurseur est choisi dans le groupe constitué par un verre inorganique, un polymère, un matériau céramique, un métal et un oxyde métallique.
 
4. Le procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel la source laser utilisée pour générer le rayonnement laser est choisie parmi Nd:YAG, Nd:verre, Nd:vanadate, Er:YAG, Yb:YAG, Tm:YAG, diode, fibre, disque, CO2, CO, HeCd, laser à vapeur de cuivre, laser à iode, laser à argon, laser à krypton ou lasers chimiques (HF, DF).
 
5. Le procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel le gaz coaxial est appliqué à une vitesse comprise entre 300 et 900 m/s.
 
6. Le procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel le matériau précurseur de préforme est un cylindre de silice ayant une section circulaire d'un diamètre de 600 µm.
 
7. Le procédé selon l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes, dans lequel la vitesse de déplacement de la préforme vers la zone de traitement est comprise entre 0,01 et 100 µm/s.
 
8. Une nanofibre obtenue selon le procédé défini dans l'une quelconque des revendications précédentes ayant un diamètre compris entre 1 et 900 nm, et une longueur comprise entre 1 cm et 4x106 m.
 
9. La nanofibre selon la revendication 8 ayant un diamètre compris entre 1 et 500 nm, et une longueur comprise entre 1 et 5 m.
 
10. Un dispositif de production de fibres (9, 20, 29, 40) selon le procédé défini dans les revendications 1 à 7, dans lequel le dispositif comprend :

a) une tête de traitement (2, 15, 25, 35) comprenant :

- des moyens pour loger une préforme (14, 24, 34) faite en un matériau précurseur (1) ayant une forme allongée et pour la déplacer longitudinalement à une vitesse uniforme vers une zone de traitement (3), et

- des moyens (4) pour appliquer du gaz de manière coaxiale par rapport au matériau et dans le même sens de déplacement dans la zone de traitement (3) et au fur et à mesure qu'il sort de celle-ci ; et

b) un ensemble de systèmes optiques (18, 19, 26, 27, 28, 36, 37, 38, 39) adaptés pour focaliser le rayonnement laser sur le matériau précurseur (1) lorsqu'il entre dans la zone de traitement.


 
11. Le dispositif selon la revendication 10, dans lequel le rayonnement laser provient :

- de deux faisceaux laser identiques en regard faisant un angle d'environ 180° l'un par rapport à l'autre dans le plan horizontal,

- de trois faisceaux laser identiques formant un angle d'environ 120° l'un par rapport à l'autre dans le plan horizontal, ou

- de quatre faisceaux laser identiques formant un angle d'environ 90° les uns par rapport aux autres dans le plan horizontal.


 
12. Le dispositif selon l'une quelconque des revendications 10 ou 11, dans lequel le rayonnement laser est généré à partir d'une source laser choisie parmi Nd:YAG, Nd:verre, Nd:vanadate, Er:YAG, Yb:YAG, Tm:YAG, diode, fibre, disque, CO2, CO, HeCd, laser à vapeur de cuivre, laser à iode, laser à argon, laser à krypton et lasers chimiques (HF, DF).
 
13. Utilisation de la nanofibre selon les revendications 8 et 9 :

- pour la confection de tissus résistant au feu,

- comme renfort polymère pour la fabrication de composites,

- pour la régénération osseuse,

- pour la fabrication de filtres actifs bifonctionnels et recyclables,

- comme matériau de base pour différents types de cellules en génie tissulaire,

- pour la régénération des muqueuses,

- pour la régénération cutanée, ou

- pour la régénération de cartilage.


 




Drawing

















Cited references

REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description




Non-patent literature cited in the description