Aerosols are tiny particles that can have major impacts on Earth’s climate and human health.
For example, these droplets could reflect incoming sunlight back into outer space, helping to cool a warming planet. Or they can be used to deliver drugs to the lungs, especially for the treatment of respiratory diseases.
Therefore, the ability to more precisely control how aerosols move is critical to pharmaceutical science and climate research. Aerosol science is also a key aspect of many industries, from automotive to food processing.
Now, scientists have published a study describing a breakthrough device — a new type of whip-style aerosol sprayer — that is relatively inexpensive to manufacture and operate.
“We created a unique, steady-state, gas-centric whipping jet that does not use electricity,” said lead author Sankar Raju Narayanasamy, Ph.D., a researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Berkeley Lab and SLAC affiliated researchers at the National Accelerator Laboratory.
“This development is a major feat with broad applications,” said Narayanasamy, who conducted the research as a BioXFEL Scholar, a National Science Foundation-funded research consortium led by Hauptmann at the University at Buffalo. – Led by Woodward Medical Research Institute (HWI) and partner institutions.
Dr. Martin Trebbin, assistant professor of chemistry at SUNY Imperial Innovation in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University at Buffalo, is co-corresponding author of the study.
“Size-controlled fine monodisperse aerosols can be used in sample environment instruments such as mass spectrometers, X-ray free-electron lasers (XFEL) and cryo-electron microscopy, which are used to study biological macromolecules for structural analysis and drug discovery,” he said. .”
The research is “an important achievement in fluid dynamics and microfluidics,” said Trebbin, who is a core faculty member at UB’s RENEW Institute and holds a post at the BioXFEL Science and Technology Center.
The technique is described in a study titled “Self-sequencing multiple monodisperse two-dimensional sprays based on exceptional whipping instabilities from an anisotropic microfluidic liquid-jet device” published Jan. 11 in the journal Cell Press. Cell Reports Physical Sciences.
The research marks the third generation of advances in liquid jet technology. First came the cylindrical liquid jet in 1998, followed by the flat liquid sheet jet in 2018.
The new whipping jet is the first of its kind because it produces uniform droplet.
Over the past 20 years, scientists have tried many methods, such as piezoelectric actuation or localized heating, to precisely control the movement of aerosols. However, the use of these techniques is limited because they tend to alter the specimens that scientists study using aerosols. This is especially true for biological samples.
In the study, the researchers discuss the important role that analytical fluid dynamics — the branch of fluid mechanics that uses numerical analysis and data structures to analyze and solve problems involving fluid flow — plays in their work.
This included interpreting the device’s “jet diameter, whipping regime and spread angle”, said Dr. Ramakrishna Vasireddi, co-first author and research scientist at SOLEIL, the French synchrotron facility in Paris.
“This phenomenon can be further characterized experimentally by measuring the angle relative to the flow velocity, the distance between droplets, the droplet shape, and the reproducibility of these parameters,” he added.
In the study, the team also explains how to build this relatively cheap device.
This work was supported by the German Research Federation (DFG) Cluster of Excellence “Hamburg Center for Ultrafast Imaging – Structure, Dynamics and Control of Matter at the Atomic Scale”. This work was performed through the Berkeley Synchrotron Infrared Structural Biology (BSISB) Imaging Program, which is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. It was conducted by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy.