Inhalation Dynamics of Aerosol and Airborne Disease Transmission

Theme: Basic processes

Start date: Cohort 2: 2020

Supervisors: Prof Jonathan Reid


Aerosol plays a crucial role in many research fields such as disease transmission and drug delivery to the lung. The outbreak of COVID-19 have raised the need to understand airborne transmission in order to develop measures for effective control. However, the microphysical processes that occur between the points of aerosol generation from an infected individual and deposition in the humid lung of susceptible individuals are poorly understand, where the condensation and evaporation kinetics plays an important role. With an advancement of single particle techniques, it is possible to obtain a greater understanding of the dynamic processes controlling particle size, phase and composition of the respiratory droplets and aerosols under a wide range of relative humidity (RH) up to 100% which is typically found in human lungs. 

In this project, the comparative kinetics – electrodynamic balance (CK-EDB) and controlled electrodynamic levitation and extraction of bioaerosol on to a substrate (CELEBS) technique will be used to explore the microphysical processes of respiratory fluids under the controlled environment (e.g. RH and temperature, T) by simulating the exhalation and re-inhalation process. The laboratory measurement results will be used to improve the accurate parameterisation of the International Committee for Radiological Protection (ICRP) lung deposition model, with the impact of hygroscopic growth of inhaled particles largely ignored in previous studies. As a result, this study will contribute to improved predictions of particle deposition fraction and size distributions of bioaerosols, therapeutic aerosols, and environmental respirable pollutants, providing insights into the inhalable drug efficacy and environmental health, augmenting accurate exposure and risk assessments.