Canada Research Chair Professor (Tier I) in Advanced Fibrous Materials
BS (Philadelphia University), M.S, PhD (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Frank Forward office: +1 (604) 822-2738
Office: Frank Forward Room 313
Nanofibres belong to a new class of fibrous materials having diameter equal to or less than 100 nm. Through a non-mechanical method of formation of nanoscale fibres electrostatically from polymer solutions or melts our research objective is to gain a fundamental understanding and investigate methods to produce nanofibres consistently and reproducibly. The ultimate goal of our research is to bridge the dimensional gap by electrospinning of multifunctional nanofibres and organize the nanofibres into linear, planar and 3-D fibrous assemblies for specific applications. We specifically focus our research in electroactive nanofibres; bioactive nanofibres; and multifunctional nanocomposite fibres. Examples of electroactive nanofibres being investigated include intrinsically conductive fibres such as polyethylenedioxythiolene(PEDT), polyaniline (PANi) and their blends. Bioactive nanofibres of interest are animal and plant based protein fibres (recombinant spider silk, silkworm silk, wool keratin, collagen, elastin, wheat gluten, corn zein etc) as well as biodegradable synthetic fibres (PLA, PGA, PLAGA). By co-electrospinning of nanoparticle, nanotubes and nanoplatelets with appropriate polymers a new family of multifunctional nanocompsoite fibres are being developed thus creating a new pathway to connect nanodimension, nanoeffects to macrostructures for a broad range of applications including energy storage, electronic devices, UHS sensors, ultra-strong lightweight composites.
Building on a tradition of creative design and fabrication of fibre based surgical implants the Advanced Fibrous Materials Laboratory is dedicated to the development of a nanofibre platform for tissue engineering scaffolds for orthopedic(ligament, tendon etc), vascular (small diameter arteries, stents) and neural prostheses (brain machine interface). Of fundamental interest is the understanding of the dynamic interaction between biological cells and fibrous scaffolds at various hierarchical length scales. Through biomimetic design a family of protein nanofibres from silk fibroin and wool keratin polymers as well as collagens and elastins has been developed. Research work has also been initiated on self-expandable drug loaded polymer stents and compliance neural prostheses. To facilitate detection cells and surgical implants are labeled with quantum dot as well as other nanoparticles by co-electrosping to create fluorescent and magnetic nanofibres and threads.
Textile structural composites are composites reinforced by textile structures dedicated for load bearing applications. With a focus on the engineering design and manufacturing science of complex 3-D fiber architecture the research of the Advanced Fibrous Materials group, having a symbiotic relation with the AMPEL composite group, spans over a broad range of length scales including large diameter braiding to micro and nanosacle braiding and nanofibre placement. An example of our research is to combine textile preforming process with composite formation process as illustrated in the Briadtrusion process by combining the braiding with pultrusion. Through hybridization and gradient design a major emphasis of our research is the development of high damage tolerant and damage resistant fibre-based structures for armors as well as vehicle safety products. To facilitate communication between structural design engineers and textile manufacturing technologists a Fabric Geometry Model has been developed thus creating a framework for the integration of design for manufacturing of textile structural composites.
Electrospinning stations (5 units)
Computer controlled 2D and 3-D braiders