Skip to main content

High-Speed Laser Image Analysis of Plume Angles for Pressurised Metered Dose Inhalers: The Effect of Nozzle Geometry


The aim of this study is to investigate aerosol plume geometries of pressurised metered dose inhalers (pMDIs) using a high-speed laser image system with different actuator nozzle materials and designs. Actuators made from aluminium, PET and PTFE were manufactured with four different nozzle designs: cone, flat, curved cone and curved flat. Plume angles and spans generated using the designed actuator nozzles with four solution-based pMDI formulations were imaged using Oxford Lasers EnVision system and analysed using EnVision Patternate software. Reduced plume angles for all actuator materials and nozzle designs were observed with pMDI formulations containing drug with high co-solvent concentration (ethanol) due to the reduced vapour pressure. Significantly higher plume angles were observed with the PTFE flat nozzle across all formulations, which could be a result of the nozzle geometry and material’s hydrophobicity. The plume geometry of pMDI aerosols can be influenced by the vapour pressure of the formulation, nozzle geometries and actuator material physiochemical properties.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10


  1. 1.

    Thiel C. From Susie’s question to CFC free: an inventor’s perspective on forty years of MDI development and regulation. Respir Drug Deliv. 1996;1:115–24.

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Bell J, Newman S. The rejuvenated pressurised metered dose inhaler. Expert Opin Drug Deliv. 2007;4(3):215–34.

  3. 3.

    Newman SP. Principles of metered-dose inhaler design. Respir Care. 2005;50(9):1177–90.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Kim CS, Eldridge MA, Sackner MA. Oropharyngeal deposition and delivery aspects of metered-dose inhaler aerosols. Am Rev Respir Dis. 1987;135(1):157–64.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Sunita L. An overview on: pharmaceutical aerosols. International Research Journal of Pharmacy. 2012;3(9):68–75

  6. 6.

    FDA. Guidance for Industrv Metered Dose Inhaler (MDI) and Dry Powder Inhaler (DPI) Drug Products. Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). 1998;

  7. 7.

    Hünerbein B, Kala H, Moldenhauer H. Aerosols and sprays. Pharmazie. 1978;33(12):824–31.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Benjamin EJ, Kroeten JJ, Shek E. Characterization of spray patterns of inhalation aerosols using thin‐layer chromatography. J Pharm Sci. 1983;72(4):380–5.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Smyth H, Hickey A, Brace G, Barbour T, Gallion J, Grove J. Spray pattern analysis for metered dose inhalers I: orifice size, particle size, and droplet motion correlations. Drug Dev Ind Pharm. 2006;32(9):1033–41.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Crosland BM, Johnson MR, Matida EA. Characterization of the spray velocities from a pressurized metered-dose inhaler. J Aerosol Med Pulm Drug Deliv. 2009;22(2):85–98.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Oliveira RF, Teixeira S, Teixeira JC, Silva LF, Antunes H. pMDI sprays: theory, experiment and numerical simulation. In Book: Advances in Modeling of Fluid Dynamics. Intech. 2012;11:255-92. doi:10.5772/46099.

  12. 12.

    Kakade PP, Versteeg HK, Hargrave GK, Genova P, Williams Iii RC, Deaton D. Design optimization of a novel pMDI actuator for systemic drug delivery. J Aerosol Med. 2007;20(4):460–74.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Naqwi AA, Durst F. Light scattering applied to LDA and PDA measurements. Part 1: theory and numerical treatments. Part Part Syst Charact. 1991;8(1–4):245–58.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Naqwi AA, Durst F. Light scattering applied to LDA and PDA measurements Part 2: computational results and their discussion. Part Part Syst Charact. 1992;9(1–4):66–80.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Bodoc V, Laurent C, Biscos Y, Lavergne G. Advanced measurement techniques for spray investigations. AerospaceLab. 2009;1(1):1–16.

  16. 16.

    Tuck C, Ellis M, Miller P. Techniques for measurement of droplet size and velocity distributions in agricultural sprays. Crop Prot. 1997;16(7):619–28.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Johal B, Murphy S, Marshall J. Plume characteristics of fluticasone propionate/formoterol pMDI compared with fluticasone propionate/salmeterol pMDI. Eur Respir J. 2013;42 Suppl 57:4132.

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Miller PC, Tuck CR, Murphy S, da Costa Ferreira M, editors. Measurements of the droplet velocities in sprays produced by different designs of agricultural spray nozzle. European Conference on Liquid Atomization and Spray Systems, Como Lake, Italy; 2008.

  19. 19.

    Kwok PCL, Chan HK. Electrostatics of pharmaceutical inhalation aerosols. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2009;61(12):1587–99.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Chen Y, Young PM, Fletcher DF, Chan HK, Long E, Lewis D, et al. The influence of actuator materials and nozzle designs on electrostatic charge of Pressurised Metered Dose Inhaler (pMDI) formulations. Pharm Res. 2014;31(5):1325–37.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Chen Y, Young P, Fletcher D, Chan HK, Long E, Lewis D, et al. The effect of actuator nozzle designs on the electrostatic charge generated in pressurised metered dose inhaler aerosols. Pharm Res. 2014;31(5):1325–37.

  22. 22.

    Diaz AF, Felix-Navarro RM. A semi-quantitative tribo-electric series for polymeric materials: the influence of chemical structure and properties. J Electrost. 2004;62(4):277–90.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Vervaet C, Byron PR. Drug–surfactant–propellant interactions in HFA-formulations. Int J Pharm. 1999;186(1):13–30.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Lefebvre A. Atomization and sprays CRC press; 1988;1040(2756):155–97.

  25. 25.

    Sou A, Hosokawa S, Tomiyama A. Effects of cavitation in a nozzle on liquid jet atomization. Int J Heat Mass Transf. 2007;50(17):3575–82.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Tamaki N, editor. Effects of cavitation in a nozzle hole on atomization of spray and development of high-efficiency atomization enhancement nozzle. Proceedings the 11th international conference on liquid atomization and spray systems, paper; 2009.

  27. 27.

    Brambilla G, Ganderton D, Garzia R, Lewis D, Meakin B, Ventura P. Modulation of aerosol clouds produced by pressurised inhalation aerosols. Int J Pharm. 1999;186(1):53–61.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


This research was supported by the Australian Research Council Linkage Project funding scheme (project number ARC-LP100200156) and Chiesi Ltd, Chippenham, Wiltshire, UK. Professor Traini is the recipient of an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (project number FT12010063). Professor Young is the recipient of an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (project number FT110100996).

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Daniela Traini.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Chen, Y., Young, P.M., Murphy, S. et al. High-Speed Laser Image Analysis of Plume Angles for Pressurised Metered Dose Inhalers: The Effect of Nozzle Geometry. AAPS PharmSciTech 18, 782–789 (2017).

Download citation


  • aerosol
  • electrostatics
  • electrostatics nozzle designs
  • plume geometry