Particle Technology Labs

Problems in Particle Size: Laser Diffraction Observations

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The results obtained by a particle size analysis can easily be taken for granted. If the particle size distribution of a material must be quantified and reported, it is important that the full implications of the analytical technique and generated data are investigated and understood. While complying with designated testing methods and procedures is of great importance in a quality assurance environment, it can be argued that the purpose for testing is irrelevant if the results obtained by these methods are inaccurate. Using a consistent method is necessary for highlighting lot-to-lot variability, but the results only reflect the actual particle size insofar as they are known to be accurate. Classifying the 'true' particle size of a material can be a difficult task, as the results obtained by an analysis are highly dependent on the technique by which they are measured. Even so, there are ways that a given particle size result can be verified to ensure greater confidence in the accuracv of the data.

When reviewing the results of a particle size analysis, there are several common red flags that can lead one to question the accuracy of a given data output. While many of these problems can apply to a variety of particle sizing methodologies, this article focuses on those common to laser diffraction (or laser light scattering), as it represents one of the most widely used techniques. This article aims to briefly discuss a few of these problems, how to identify them, and how to correct them.

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