Preparation and characterization of polycaprolactone microspheres by electrospraying
The ability to reproducibly produce and effectively collect electrosprayed polymeric microspheres with controlled morphology and size in bulk form is challenging. In this study, microparticles were produced by electrospraying polycaprolactone (PCL) of various molecular weights and solution concentrations in chloroform, and by collecting materials on different substrates. The resultant PCL microparticles were characterized by optical and electron microscopy to investigate the effect of molecular weight, solution concentration, applied voltage, working distance, and flow rate on their morphology and size. The work demonstrates the key role of a moderate molecular weight and/or solution concentration in the formation of spherical PCL particles via an electrospraying process. Increasing the applied voltage was found to produce smaller and more uniform PCL microparticles. There was a relatively low increase in the particle average size with an increase in the working distance and flow rate. Four types of substrates were adopted to collect electrosprayed PCL particles: a glass slide, aluminium foil, liquid bath, and copper wire. Unlike 2D bulk structures collected on the other substrates, a 3D tubular structure of microspheres was formed on the copper wire which could find application in the construction of 3D tumor mimics.