Automated droplet size distribution measurements using digital inline holography

S. Santosh Kumar, Cheng Li, Chase E. Christen, Christopher J. Hogan, Steven A. Fredericks, Jiarong Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Droplet generation through spray breakup is an unsteady and non-linear process which produces a relatively dense, highly polydisperse aerosol containing non-spherical droplets with sizes spanning several orders of magnitude. Such variability in size and shape can lead to significant sources of error for conventional measurements based on laser scattering. Although direct imaging of droplets can potentially overcome these limitations, imaging suffers from a shallow depth of field as well as occlusions, which prevents the complete spray from being analyzed. In comparison, digital inline holography (DIH), a low cost coherent imaging technique, can enable high resolution imaging of the sample over an extended depth of field, typically several orders of magnitude larger than traditional imaging. In this study, we showcase an automated DIH imaging system for characterizing monodisperse and polydisperse aerosol droplet size and shape distributions in the 20 μm–3 mm diameter range, over a large sample volume. The high accuracy of the technique is demonstrated by measurements of monodisperse droplets generated by a vibrating orifice aerosol generator (VOAG), achieving a peak resolution of ∼14.2. Measurements of a polydisperse spray from a flat fan nozzle serve to establish the versatility of DIH in extracting a two-dimensional size-eccentricity distribution function, which indicates a strong semilogarithmic scaling between the two parameters, that decays as the droplet migrates away from the nozzle. Due to its low cost, compact setup as well as high density of data obtained, DIH can serve as a promising approach for future aerosol characterization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105442
JournalJournal of Aerosol Science
StatePublished - Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Winfield United. The authors acknowledge the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (MSI) at the University of Minnesota for providing resources that contributed to the research results reported within this paper. URL: . The authors also thank Dr. Bernard A. Olson and Mr. Ian Marabella (University of Minnesota) for their assistance in using the VOAG for monodisperse measurements.


  • Digital inline holography
  • Droplet size distribution functions
  • Size-shape joint PDF
  • Sprays


Dive into the research topics of 'Automated droplet size distribution measurements using digital inline holography'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this