By Haydn Kriel, R&D Manager; Dr. Megan Coates, Senior Scientist; and Dr. Eugene Smit, CEO, The Stellenbosch Nanofiber Company (Pty.) Ltd. (SNC)
Nanofibers have a range of applications in medicine, cosmetics, environmental monitoring, energy generation and the manufacture of smart materials. The high surface area-to-volume ratio of these nanomaterials is highly beneficial for drug delivery and catalysis, and their controllable pore sizes, that can be tailored to selectively exclude components like bacteria or pollutants, makes nanofiber webs ideal for filtration, tissue engineering and wound care. Nanofibers are also versatile in that additives can be encapsulated within the fibers or coated on to the surface. The choice of the polymer and the nanofiber dimensions can be changed to obtain specific material properties.
Ever since the major investment in nanotechnology in the 1990s, there has been significant advancement in this area with the availability of various products, which have superior properties making them valuable for a wide range of applications.