Researchers from the University College London, UK, have published a paper in Applied Physics Reviews describing new methods of producing core-sheath polymer fibres to be used as an antiviral bioactive material.
The core-sheath polymer fibres can function as a one-size-fits-all material to be used in medical equipment, face masks, and drugs. By carefully selecting the inner and outer layer materials, the antiviral bioactive material can be tuned for a variety of biomedical applications.
Mohan Edirisinghe, one of the authors on the paper and Bonfield Chair of Biomaterials at University College London Mechanical Engineering, said: “You want strength, but you also want bioactivity. So, if you align them in a core-sheath polymer, you have the strength of the core material, but the functionality comes from a bioactive polymer or ingredient that is in the sheath. That is a big advantage.”
When using the fibres to create reusable face masks, the active sheath material can function as an antiviral agent like copper. Other components, like drugs or proteins, can also be embedded within the sheath layer during the manufacturing process, adding additional material capabilities.
Creating core-sheath polymer fibres can be difficult. This antiviral bioactive material requires custom-made processing architectures and biologically relevant materials. Edirisinghe and his team have developed several manufacturing techniques that can be modified as appropriate. A vessel containing a reservoir of the core material is embedded within another reservoir containing the sheath material. The two are jetted out through vessel orifices simultaneously, creating a fibre with the core material surrounded by the sheath material.
Edirisinghe said: “This is just the tip of the iceberg, because this is just two reservoirs with two materials, which become the sheath and core layers of the fibres, but you can extend this to three or four. In each layer, you can have a different drug that satisfies a different purpose.”