University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Chemically Stable Fibers Electrospun from Polyelectrolytes

Sarah Perry, Ph.D.,  Jessica Schiffman, Ph.D.
The invention is a new platform for fabricating nano- and macro- scale fiber materials and for encapsulation. Complex coacervates are associative complexes of positive and negative polyelectrolytes, which form complexes due to a combination of electrostatic and entropic interactions between the oppositely charged polyions. Due to their aqueous solubility, polyelectrolyte solutions are a good medium for encapsulating small molecules. However, while the concept of polyelectrolyte complexes for a drug delivery system and other applications has seen heightened interest in recent years, significant obstacles and challenges remain both in processing technologies and functionalities of the resulting materials.


Electrospinning is an established, versatile, inexpensive and scalable process for creating continuous, nanofibrous mats of non-woven nano-/micro-scale diameter fibers. Electrospun mats hold great promise in biomedical, environmental, and industrial fields.


The invention provides novel polymer nanofiber or microfiber mats and methods for their preparation via an aqueous, one-step polyelectrolyte complexation and electrospinning of complex coacervates. The process involves an aqueous medium and no organic solvents and/or strongly acidic or basic condition, resulting in chemically and thermally robust fiber mats. Thus, this process and the resulting materials have tremendous potential as a green processing strategy that can serve as the basis for developing a new class environmentally benign fiber scaffolds for use in applications, such as wound healing, water remediation, catalysis, and food packaging.




•       One-step, inexpensive, green process

•       All aqueous processing

•       No crosslinking or post processing needed

•       Produces robust fibers

•       Process is scalable


•       Platform for fabricating nanofiber materials for encapsulation


Dr. Sarah Perry is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at UMass Amherst. The Perry laboratory utilizes self-assembly, molecular design, and microfluidic technologies to generate biomimetic microenvironments.


Dr. Jessica Schiffman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at UMass Amherst. The Schiffman laboratory is an interdisciplinary and imaginative research team that uses “greener” materials science and engineering to address grand challenges in human health.

Available for Licensing and/or Sponsored Research
UMA 17-009
Patent Pending
Burnley Jaklevic
Senior Licensing Officer
University of Massachusetts
Jessica Schiffman
Sarah Perry
Xiangxi Meng