Electrospinning is a route to polymer fibres with diameters considerably smaller than available from most fibre-producing techniques. We explore the use of a low molecular weight compound as an effective control additive during the electrospinning of poly(epsilon-caprolactone). This approach extends the control variables for the electrospinning of nanoscale fibres from the more usual ones such as the polymer molecular weight, solvent and concentration. We show that through the use of dual solvent systems, we can alter the impact of the additive on the electrospinning process so that finer as well as thicker fibres can be prepared under otherwise identical conditions. As well as the size of the fibres and the number of beads, the use of the additive allows us to alter the level of crystallinity as well as the level of preferred orientation of the poly(epsilon-caprolactone) crystals. This approach, involving the use of a dual solvent and a low molar mass compound, offers considerable potential for application to other polymer systems. (C) 2010 Society of Chemical Industr
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