Parents know all too well the pain experienced by their children - and themselves - when the time comes for immunizations at the doctors office.
A prototype of the experimental MicroJet (right) and its electronic control box, shown with a conventional syringe for size comparison. The electronics can eventually be miniaturized for a commercial product. Photo by Marcio von Muhlen, UC Berkeley
MicroJet in action: Watch a composite video of the MicroJet, combining still frames to show the jet stream in air following the piezoelectric actuation. The entire sequence has a duration of roughly 80 microseconds, meaning it has been slowed 31,250 times so it can be seen with the naked eye. The jet velocity reaches 140 meters per second at the last frame, and the jet diameter is 69 microns. (Video by Marcio von Muhlen, UC Berkeley)
But a new MicroJet injector being developed by bioengineering students at the University of California, Berkeley, may help ease some of that dread by taking the needle - and the pain - out of the equation. The MicroJet uses an electronic actuator that could one day propel vaccinations, insulin or other drugs through the skin of the patient - without the device even touching the skin - with far less pain than a hypodermic needle.
The MicroJet improves upon current jet injectors now on the market, which also forgo the conventional needle but have less control over the volume and speed of drug delivered. The UC Berkeley bioengineers were able to achieve liquid jet speeds as high as 140 meters per second, or about 315 miles per hour, with the MicroJet.
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