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A novel approach to fabricate silk nanofibers containing hydroxyapatite nanoparticles using a three-way stopcock connector

Faheem A Sheikh12*, Hyung Woo Ju1, Bo Mi Moon1, Hyun Jung Park1, Jung Ho Kim1, Ok Joo Lee1 and Chan Hum Park13*

Author affiliations

1 Nano-Bio Regenerative Medical Institute, College of Medicine, Hallym University, Chuncheon 200-702, South Korea

2 Department of Chemistry, University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg, Texas 78539, USA

3 Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, School of Medicine, Hallym University, Chuncheon 200-702, South Korea

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Citation and License

Nanoscale Research Letters 2013, 8:303  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-8-303

Published: 1 July 2013


Electrospinning technique is commonly used to produce micro- and/or nanofibers, which utilizes electrical forces to produce polymeric fibers with diameters ranging from several micrometers down to few nanometers. Desirably, electrospun materials provide highly porous structure and appropriate pore size for initial cell attachment and proliferation and thereby enable the exchange of nutrients. Composite nanofibers consisting of silk and hydroxyapatite nanoparticles (HAp) (NPs) had been considered as an excellent choice due to their efficient biocompatibility and bone-mimicking properties. To prepare these nanofiber composites, it requires the use of acidic solutions which have serious consequences on the nature of both silk and HAp NPs. It is ideal to create these nanofibers using aqueous solutions in which the physicochemical nature of both materials can be retained. However, to create those nanofibers is often difficult to obtain because of the fact that aqueous solutions of silk and HAp NPs can precipitate before they can be ejected into fibers during the electrospinning process. In this work, we had successfully used a three-way stopcock connector to mix the two different solutions, and very shortly, this solution is ejected out to form nanofibers due to electric fields. Different blend ratios consisting HAp NPs had been electrospun into nanofibers. The physicochemical aspects of fabricated nanofiber had been characterized by different state of techniques like that of FE-SEM, EDS, TEM, TEM-EDS, TGA, FT-IR, and XRD. These characterization techniques revealed that HAp NPs can be easily introduced in silk nanofibers using a stopcock connector, and this method favorably preserves the intact nature of silk fibroin and HAp NPs. Moreover, nanofibers obtained by this strategy were tested for cell toxicity and cell attachment studies using NIH 3 T3 fibroblasts which indicated non-toxic behavior and good attachment of cells upon incubation in the presence of nanofibers.

Nanofibers; Scaffolds; Porosity; Silk fibroin; Hydroxyapatite; Electrospinning