Delivery Strategies for Skin: Comparison of Nanoliter Jets, Needles and Topical Solutions

Katharina Cu, Ruchi Bansal, Samir Mitragotri, David Fernandez Rivas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
87 Downloads (Pure)


Drug diffusion within the skin with a needle-free micro-jet injection (NFI) device was compared with two well-established delivery methods: topical application and solid needle injection. A permanent make-up (PMU) machine, normally used for dermal pigmentation, was utilized as a solid needle injection method. For NFIs a continuous wave (CW) laser diode was used to create a bubble inside a microfluidic device containing a light absorbing solution. Each method delivered two different solutions into ex vivo porcine skin. The first solution consisted of a red dye (direct red 81) and rhodamine B in water. The second solution was direct red 81 and rhodamine B in water and glycerol. We measured the diffusion depth, width and surface area of the solutions in all the injected skin samples. The NFI has a higher vertical dispersion velocity of 3 × 10 5μm/s compared to topical (0.1 μm/s) and needle injection (53 μm/s). The limitations and advantages of each method are discussed, and we conclude that the micro-jet injector represents a fast and minimally invasive injection method, while the solid needle injector causes notable tissue damage. In contrast, the topical method had the slowest diffusion rate but causes no visible damage to the skin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2028-2039
JournalAnnals of biomedical engineering
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2019


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Needle-free injection
  • Thermocavitation
  • Transdermal delivery
  • Solid needle injection
  • Topical application
  • Laser micro-jet


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