Pioneer works on nanocomposites were focused in carbon nanofibers or nanotubes dispersed in epoxy matrix, a viscous liquid facilitating the compounding stage. The interest in developing new composites aimed for biomedical applications led us to design new nanocomposites based in biodegradable polymers with demonstrated biological performance.
We report herein the development of micro-nano composites by extruding poly(butylene succinate) (PBS) microfibers with two different diameters, 200 and 500 µm, reinforced with electrospun chitosan nanofibers. Analysis of the microfibers showed high levels of alignment of the reinforcing phase and excellent distribution of the nanofibers in the composite. Its geometry facilitates the development of orthotropy, maximizing the reinforcement in the axial fiber main axis.
The biodegradable microfiber composites show an outstanding improvement of mechanical properties and of the kinetics of biodegradation, with very small fractions (0.05 and 0.1 wt.%) of electrospun chitosan nanofibers reinforcement. The high surface area-to-volume ratio of electrospun nanofibers combined with the increased water uptake capability of chitosan justify the accelerated kinetics of biodegradation of the composite as compared with the unfilled synthetic polymer.