Evaluation of laser diffraction-based particle size measurements using digital inline holography

S. Santosh Kumar, Zilong He, Christopher J. Hogan, Steven Fredericks, Jiarong Hong

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11 Scopus citations


The measurements of size distribution of small particles (e.g. dusts, droplets, bubbles, etc) are critical for a broad range of applications in environmental science, public health, industrial manufacturing, etc. Laser diffraction (LD), a widely used method for such applications, depends on model-based inversion with underlying assumptions on particle properties. Furthermore, the presence of sampling biases such as velocity differentials are often overlooked in simple ex-situ calibrations, which introduces as an additional source of error. In contrast, digital inline holography (DIH), a single camera coherent imaging technique, can both measure particle size distributions without the need for a model-based inversion and can directly provide information on the shape characteristics of the particles. In this study, we evaluate the performance of an LD system in characterizing polydisperse droplets produced in a flat fan spray using in-situ DIH based imaging as a reference. The systematic differences in the two techniques are examined. A droplet-trajectory-based correction for the LD-inferred size distributions is proposed to compensate for the observed differences. We validate the correction using NIST standard polydisperse particles undergoing differential settling, and then apply the correction to polydisperse spray droplet measurements. The correction improves agreement between LD and DIH size distributions for droplets over two orders of magnitude, but with LD still underestimating the fraction of droplets at sizes above ∼1 mm. This underestimation is possibly linked to the complex oscillatory and rotational motion of droplets which cannot be faithfully captured by measurement or modelled by the correction algorithm without additional information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number125201
JournalMeasurement Science and Technology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020

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: http://www.msi.umn.edu. The authors also thank Mr. Ian Marabella and Mr. Chase Christen for assistance with laser diffraction measurements and wind tunnel system operation.


  • digital inline holography
  • laser diffraction
  • particle sizing


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