Nanofibers: Uses and Applications of Nanofibers

A nanofiber is a fiber with a diameter of 100 nanometers or less. The properties of nanofibers have caused researchers and companies to consider using this material in several fields.

A survey of the applications of nanofibers:

Nanofiber mesh containing zeolites have been shown to absorb toxins in the bloodstream. Researchers believe this nanofiber can be used in compact and inexpensive blood purification systems as an alternative to dialysis.

A company called TruSpin is testing li-ion batteries using anodes made from silicon nanofibers.

Researchers are using nanofibers to capture individual cancer cells circulating in the blood stream. They use nanofibers coated with antibodies that bind to cancer cells, trapping the cancer cell for analysis.

Nanofibers can stimulate the production of cartilage in damaged joints. Three different approaches to the use of nanofibers to stimulate cartilage are being taken by researchers at John Hopkins University, at Northwestern University and at the University of Pennsylvania.

Reseachers are using nanofibers to delivery thrapeutic drugs. The have developed an elastic material that is embedded with needle like carbon nanofibers. The material is intended to be used as balloons which are inserted next diseased tissue, and then inflated. When the balloon is inflated the carbon nanofibers penetrate diseased cells and delivery therapeutic drugs.

Researchers at MIT have used carbon nanofibers to make lithium ion battery electrodes that show four times the storage capacity of current lithium ion batteries.

The next step beyond lithium-ion batteries may be lithium sulfur batteries (the cathode contains the sulfur), which have the capability of storing several times the energy of lithium-ion  batteries. Researchers at Stanford University are using cathodes made up of carbon nanofibers encapsulating the sulfur.

Researchers are using nanofibers to make sensors that change color as they absorb chemical vapors. They plan to use these sensors to show when the absorbing material in a gas mask becomes saturated.

Researchers have developed piezoelectric nanofibers that are flexible enough to be woven into clothing. The fibers can turn normal motion into electricity to power your cell phone and other mobile electronic devices.   

Flame retardant formed by coating the foam used in furniture with carbon nanofibers

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