Several novel instruments for tobacco control research have been developed by our group, including cigarette, waterpipe, and electronic cigarette topography devices, an in-situ real-time sampling device for aerosol analysis, and a smoking robot that can mimic human puffing behavior in millisecond detail. These instruments are used by research groups in Southwest Asia, Europe, and the USA.

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The Aerosol Lab Vaping INstrument (ALVIN) is a programmable, multi-branch smoking robot with independently controlled individual flow branches for sampling aerosols and gases generated by ENDS devices.

A separate electrical feedback loop is used for regulating voltage, current, and power delivery to electronic nicotine delivery (ENDS).

ALVIN can be programmed to run standard puffing protocols and can also reproduce user puff topography sessions recorded by devices such as eTop and RINS.

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eTop is a device for measuring users’ ENDS puff topography. Flow measurements are done via custom designed mouthpieces that attach to ENDS.

eTop mouthpieces are of two types: device specific mouthpieces customized for a single ENDS, and universal / flexible mouthpieces that can fit a majority of commercially available ENDS devices.

Measurements are performed and logged every 10ms, with a measurement that can detect flows as low as 3mL/s to a high of 20 liters/min.

Raw measurement data as well as calculated statistics are logged in human readable open format to allow for use with third party software for further analysis or to be used to play back the recorded session on a smoking machine such as ALVIN. 

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LabVape is a device that regulates the electrical power to the ENDS during use and can be programmed to limit puff duration, minimum inter puff interval, and number of puffs drawn by a user. In addition, the software monitors and records the voltage, current, resistance, power, and total energy delivered to the coil during use.

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RINS (real-time in situ sampling), developed by our group (NIDA 1R01DA025659), is a combination of a topography instrument and a real-time sampler.

The device continuously measures puffing flow rate as a normal topography instrument, and simultaneously, when a puff-induced non-zero flow is detected, a fast-responding feedback loop consisting of a miniature pump, a flow sensor, and a controller samples a fraction of the generated aerosol and gases through a small diameter sampling probe installed in the mouthpiece. The feedback loop ensures that the sampled smoke is always proportional to the inhaled volume.

The sampled smoke is drawn through a quartz filter that traps the particulate phase and a DNPH-coated cartridge that traps volatile carbonyls. The remaining gas phase is exhausted into an inert sampling Tedlar bag for additional analysis. The combination of filter, cartridge, and bag allow the collection of the smoke particulate and gas phases to be analyzed after the puffing session ends, yielding values for nicotine and carbonyl compounds.

The pump, electronics, sensors, power supply, and data acquisition and control card are installed in a portable carrying case.

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