Light scattering by random shaped particles and consequences on measuring suspended sediments by laser diffraction

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We present new observational data on small-angle light scattering properties of natural, random shaped particles, as contrasted with spherical particles. The interest in this 'shape effect' on scattering arises from the need for a suitable kernel matrix for use in the laser diffraction method (LD) of particle sizing. LD is now used broadly for measuring size distribution of suspended marine particles. LD involves the measurement of small-angle forward scattering at multiple angles. This data is inverted using the kernel matrix to produce size distribution. In the absence of a suitable matrix for random shaped particles, past practice has been to use a model based on Mie theory, applicable strictly only to homogeneous spheres. The present work replaces Mie theory with empirical data. The work was motivated in part by anomalous field observations of size distribution and settling velocity distributions reported in literature. We show that a kernel matrix for random shaped particles results in improved interpretation of field multiangle scattering observations. In particular, a rising edge at the fine particle end of the size spectrum is shown to be associated with shape effects.

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