Electrospinning with Fluorescein

By Sorcha Hulme // 

My project has changed much since its conception, as during the course of the research new facets for exploration were discovered, some with very exciting prospects. One such facet was electro spinning, a well-known and well-used technique within engineering. This process involves subjecting a small meniscus of polymer to a very high voltage. This causes the polymer to form a tiny strand, which dries into a nano-fibre. This then forms a candy-floss-like material, which can be manipulated and used in a myriad of ways.

A phenomenon observed within this process was that fluorescein, a fluorescent dye, stops being fluorescent at a specific point in the spinning. As this had never been researched before, a couple of questions arose; firstly, why does the fluorescein stop being fluorescent, and secondly, can the quenching point be used to determine the drying point of the fibre, something previously unknown in the process.

This new line of research came with its own new challenges; namely, how do we collect the data needed as accurately as possible whilst preserving the process. Also, due to the nature of the process there were several small hurdles with perfecting the set-up, and fortunately all of these were passed. One of the biggest skills I will be taking away from this project is learning how to collaborate with lots of different people over lots of disciplines, and also learning how to pull everything together to achieve the best outcome.

*To view Sorcha’s project poster, please click on the thumbnail below: