Polyelectrolyte based hydrogel fibers can mimic extracellular matrix and have applications such as drug delivery and tissue scaffolding. Metal ions play a critical role in hydrogel fiber stability via electrostatic interactions, but knowledge of how they modulate mechanical properties of individual polyelectrolyte polymers is lacking. In this study, electrospun polyacrylic acid with chitosan is used as a model system to evaluate ferric ion effect on nanofiber mechanics. Using dark field microscopy imaging and persistence length analysis, we demonstrate that ferric ions modulate the bending stiffness of nanofibers. Young's modulus of individual nanofibers is estimated at values of a few kilopascals, suggesting that electrospun nanofibers possibly exist in a hydrated state. Furthermore, Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectra indicate the effect of ferric ions on polyacrylic acid molecular bonds. Our results suggest that metal ions can regulate single nanofiber stiffness, thereby providing designs to fabricate hydrogels in a tunable fashion.
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Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Graduate Studies
Nanoscience Technology Center
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Campus-only Access)
Diaz, Angie, "Tunable Effect of Metal Ions on Polyelectrolyte Mechanics" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 5877.