A simple sheath flow microfluidic device is used to fabricate polymer micro/nanofibers that have precisely controlled shapes and sizes. Poly(methylmethacrylate) (PMMA) was used as the model polymer for these experiments. The sheath-flow device uses straight diagonal and chevron-shaped grooves integrated in the top and bottom walls of the flow channel to move sheath fluid completely around the polymer stream. Portions of the sheath stream are deflected in such a way as to define the cross-sectional shape of the polymer core. The flow-rate ratio between the sheath and core solution determines the fiber diameter. Round PMMA fibers with a diameter as small as 300 nm and flattened fibers with a submicron thickness have been demonstrated. More recently, we have incorporated liquid crystal molecules into the fibers and demonstrated molecular alignment as well as control over the shape of the fiber. Measurements of function of the fibers and materials composed of the fibers are underway in order to
develop an understanding of the design rules for predicting
structure-function relationships.