Microjets and Needle-Free Injection

A visual comparison between a bullet flying through an apple and a microjet impacting a droplet.

Some people don’t mind needles, and others absolutely detest them. But to replace needles with needle-free injections, we have to understand how high-speed microjets pass through skin. Given skin’s opacity, that’s tough, so researchers are instead using droplets as a model. If we can understand the dynamics of a microjet passing through different kinds of droplets, getting jets of medicine into arms becomes easier.

Researchers found that jets passed completely through a droplet if they impacted above a critical velocity. For Newtonian droplets, the jet creates a cavity and shoots straight through because the inertia of the impact outweighs the countering force of surface tension. But with viscoelastic drops, the jet goes through, slows down, and gets sucked back into the droplet. In this case, the combination of surface tension and viscoelasticity can, eventually, overpower the jet’s inertia. (Image, research, and submission credit: M. Quetzeri-Santiago et al.)

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