Abstract

As submicron particles play an important role in a variety of ecosystems that include aqueous, terrestrial, and atmospheric, a measurement system to quantify them is highly desirable. In pursuit of formulating and fabricating a system to size them using visible light, a system that collects multi-directional scattered light from individual particles is proposed. A prototype of the system was simulated, built, and tested via calibration with a set of polystyrene spheres in water with known sizes. Results indicate that the system can accurately resolve the size of these particles in the 0.1 to 0.8 μm range. The system incorporates a design that uses oblique illumination to collect scattered light over a large range of both forward and backward scatter angles. This is then followed by the calculation of a ratio of forward to backscattered light, integrated over a suitably defined range. The monotonic dependence of this ratio upon particle size leads to an accurate estimate of particle size. The method was explored first, using simulations, and followed with a working version. The sensitivity of the method to a range of relative refractive index was tested using simulations. The results indicate that the technique is relatively insensitive to this parameter and thus of potential use in the analysis of particles from a variety of ecosystems. The paper concludes with a discussion of a variety of pragmatic issues, including the required dynamic range as well as further research needed with environmentally relevant specimens to create a pragmatic instrument.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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