A Microfluidic Model of Biomimetically Breathing Pulmonary Acinar Airways

Rami Fishler, Josue Sznitman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Quantifying respiratory flow characteristics in the pulmonary acinar depths and how they influence inhaled aerosol transport is critical towards optimizing drug inhalation techniques as well as predicting deposition patterns of potentially toxic airborne particles in the pulmonary alveoli. Here, soft-lithography techniques are used to fabricate complex acinar-like airway structures at the truthful anatomical length-scales that reproduce physiological acinar flow phenomena in an optically accessible system. The microfluidic device features 5 generations of bifurcating alveolated ducts with periodically expanding and contracting walls. Wall actuation is achieved by altering the pressure inside water-filled chambers surrounding the thin PDMS acinar channel walls both from the sides and the top of the device. In contrast to common multilayer microfluidic devices, where the stacking of several PDMS molds is required, a simple method is presented to fabricate the top chamber by embedding the barrel section of a syringe into the PDMS mold. This novel microfluidic setup delivers physiological breathing motions which in turn give rise to characteristic acinar air-flows. In the current study, micro particle image velocimetry (μPIV) with liquid suspended particles was used to quantify such air flows based on hydrodynamic similarity matching. The good agreement between μPIV results and expected acinar flow phenomena suggest that the microfluidic platform may serve in the near future as an attractive in vitro tool to investigate directly airborne representative particle transport and deposition in the acinar regions of the lungs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere53588
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number111
StatePublished - 9 May 2016


  • Bioengineering
  • Issue 111
  • Microfluidics
  • breathing
  • flow visualization
  • lungs
  • particle dynamics
  • pulmonary acinus
  • respiratory flows

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience


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