Measuring Bipolar Charge and Mass Distributions of Powder Aerosols by a Novel Tool (BOLAR)

Jennifer Wong, Yu Wei Lin, Philip Chi Lip Kwok, Ville Niemelä, John Crapper, Hak Kim Chan

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14 Citations (Scopus)


The Bipolar Charge Analyzer (BOLAR) was evaluated for measuring bipolar electrostatic charge and mass distributions of powder aerosols generated from a dry powder inhaler. Mannitol powder (5, 10, and 20 mg) was dispersed using an Osmohaler inhaler into the BOLAR at air flow rates of 30 or 60 L/min. As the aerosol sample was drawn through the BOLAR, the air flow was divided into six equal fractions. Five of them entered individual detection tubes with a defined cutoff diameter in the range of 0.95 to 16.36 μm (depending on the flow rate) and the remaining (i.e., the sixth) fraction passed through a reference chamber. The aerosols that entered the detection tubes were separated according to the particle charge polarity (positive, negative, or neutral) and charge was measured by separate electrometers. The deposited powder of a single actuation from the inhaler was chemically assayed using high performance liquid chromatography. Additionally, the aerosol measurements were conducted on a modified Classic Electrical Low Pressure Impactor (ELPI) for comparison of the net specific charge per size fraction. Spray-dried mannitol carried significantly different positively and negatively charged particles in each of the five defined particle size fractions. The charge-to-mass ratio (q/m) of positively charged particles ranged from +1.11 to +32.57 pC/μg and negatively charged particles ranged from -1.39 to -9.25 pC/μg, resulting in a net q/m of -3.08 to +13.34 pC/μg. The net q/m values obtained on the modified ELPI ranged from -5.18 to +4.81 pC/μg, which were comparable to the BOLAR measurements. This is the first full report to utilize the BOLAR to measure bipolar charge and mass distributions of a powder aerosol. Positively and negatively charged particles were observed within each size fraction, and their corresponding q/m profiles were successfully characterized. Despite some potential drawbacks, the BOLAR has provided a new platform for investigating bipolar charge in powder aerosols for inhalation. (Figure Presented)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3433-3440
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sep 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Bipolar Charge Analyzer (BOLAR)
  • Electrical Low Pressure Impactor (ELPI)
  • Osmohaler
  • spray-dried mannitol powder
  • triboelectrification

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