Ethylene oxide sterilization of electrospun poly(l-lactide)/poly(d-lactide) core/shell nanofibers


The application of polymers in medicine requires sterilization while retaining material structure and properties. This demands detailed analysis, which we show exemplarily for the sterilization of PLLA/PDLA core–shell nanofibers with ethylene oxide (EtO). The electrospun patch was exposed to EtO gas (6 vol% in CO2, 1.7 bar) for 3 h at 45 °C and 75% rel. humidity, followed by degassing under pressure/vacuum cycles for 12 h. GC–MS analysis showed that no residual EtO was retained. Fiber diameters (~ 520 ± 130 nm) of the patches remained constant as observed by electron microscopy. Young’s modulus slightly increased and the elongation at break slightly decreased, determined at 37 °C. No changes were detected in 1H-NMR spectra, in molar mass distribution (GPC) or in crystallinity measured for annealed samples with comparable thermal history (Wide Angle X-Ray Scattering). Altogether, EtO emerged as suitable sterilization method for polylactide nanofibers with core–shell morphology.
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