Abstract

The capabilities and resolution of the rainbow technique were extended to estimate the size distribution and composition of droplets in liquid–liquid systems. For these droplets, essentially characterized by a low relative refractive index (m1.0011.20), the first-order rainbow is localized in the near-forward to sideways region. It exhibits an unusually higher contrast in the parallel polarization due to the vicinity of the rainbow and the Brewster angles. A numerical study revealed that a few thousand to ten thousand droplets were necessary to obtain reliable estimations of the first moments of typical droplet size distributions when the diffractometer is operated as an ensemble averaging technique. The importance of the accuracy of the light scattering model and the inverse methods used are also documented. Experimental results performed on free-rising submillimeter to millimeter droplets of various compositions showed that a global resolution of 1% to 5% of their mean diameter and about 1.6×104 of the dispersion on their refractive index (i.e., 3% in the mixture fraction of oily droplets in water) could be achieved, which enhances the perspectives on mixing and extraction studies in liquid–liquid systems.

© 2017 Optical Society of America

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