Chih-Wei Lin1, Ting-Ho Kuo1, Sheng-Hsiu Huang1, Yu-Mei Kuo 2, Wen-Jong Wu3, Chih-Chieh Chen 1

Graduate Institute of Occupational Medicine and Industrial Hygiene, College of Public Health, National Taiwan University, Taipei 10055, Taiwan
Department of Occupational Safety and Health, Chung Hwa University of Medical Technology, Tainan 71703, Taiwan
Department of Engineering Science and Ocean Engineering, National Taiwan University, Taipei 10617, Taiwan

Received: July 7, 2018
Revised: November 9, 2018
Accepted: December 19, 2018
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Cite this article:
Lin, C.W., Kuo, T.H., Huang, S.H., Kuo, Y.M., Wu, W.J. and Chen, C.C. (2019). Characterization of a Piezoelectric Inkjet Aerosol Generator for the Study of Bioaerosol Survivability. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 19: 959-970.


  • A piezoelectric inkjet print head is useful for generating viable aerosols.
  • The generation of inkjet droplets is governed by pulse width and input voltage.
  • The particle generation can be controlled by adjusting the actuation frequency.


In laboratory-based bioaerosol researches, the ability to reliably generate bioaerosols with minimal damage to the microorganisms is critical. In this work, a thermally consistent inkjet-based aerosol generation technique was adopted to generate bioaerosols, and its ability to preserve microbial survivability was assessed. The performance of the piezoelectric inkjet aerosol generator was evaluated using a potassium sodium tartrate solution and an aqueous suspension of 3-µm polystyrene latex spheres. An Aerodynamic Particle Sizer was employed to measure the aerosol number concentration and the size distribution. The main operating parameters of the inkjet print head for generating viable aerosols were the driving voltage, pulse duration, dispersion air flow, pulse frequency, and volume fraction of the solids in the nebulizing liquid. In the bioaerosol survivability experiments, yeast was used as the test microorganism. The nebulized yeast cells were sampled at different distances from the outlet of the inkjet aerosol generator and thus exposed to varying degrees of relative humidity for different residence times. Three bioaerosol samplers, namely, a BioSampler, a gelatin filter cassette, and a Marple cascade impactor with Mylar film, were used to collect the airborne yeast samples. Yeast survivability was determined by methylene blue viability staining. This study successfully demonstrated the feasibility and the advantages of using a piezoelectric inkjet print head to generate viable aerosols. Applying a square wave with appropriate combinations of voltage and pulse duration enabled the inkjet system to produce a liquid with rheological properties similar to those of water, and the particle generation rate was manipulated by adjusting the pulse frequency. Moreover, dispersion air was required to reduce coagulation. Although the number of droplets containing PSL spheres increased with the volume fraction of the spheres (Fv), a high Fv also reduced the probability of singlets forming.

Keywords: Survivability; Piezoelectric inkjet; Aerosol generation; Bioaerosols.


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