We present a PC-based multi-tau software correlator suitable for processing dynamic light-scattering data. The correlator is based on a simple algorithm that was developed with the graphical programming language LabVIEW, according to which the incoming data are processed on line without any storage on the hard disk. By use of a standard photon-counting unit, a National Instruments Model 6602-PCI timer–counter, and a 550-MHz Pentium III personal computer, correlation functions can be worked out in full real-time over time scales of ∼5 µs and in batch processing down to time scales of ∼300 ns. The latter limit is imposed by the speed of data transfer between the counter and the PC’s memory and thus is prone to be progressively reduced with future technological development. Testing of the correlator and evaluation of its performances were carried out by use of dilute solutions of calibrated polystyrene spheres. Our results indicate that the correlation functions are determined with such precision that the corresponding particle diameters can be recovered to within an accuracy of a few percent rms.
© 2001 Optical Society of AmericaPDF Article