Electrospinning of a blend of a liquid crystalline polymer with poly(ethylene oxide): Vectran nanofiber mats and their mechanical properties

Vectran (R) is a liquid crystalline polymer (LCP) with remarkable specific properties in its commercial microfiber form. Even though it has been widely studied in the last few decades, there have been no reports in the literature on Vectran nanofibers production. Due to the insufficient spinnability of Vectran, a "host-guest" method with poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) as a host polymer is used in the present work to produce continuous and uniform nanofibers of Vectran-PEO blends. Subsequently, a heat treatment is applied and optimized to remove PEO and convert the amorphous Vectran-PEO nanofibers into more ordered and mechanically improved pure Vectran nanofibers. The conclusions are supported by scanning electron microscopy, thermal analysis, selected area electron diffraction (SAED) patterns and mechanical characterization of electrospun Vectran nanofiber mats after removal of PEO.

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