The basics of particle size analysis methods

Particle size analysis represents a necessary process for different industries that manufacture various products, from pharmaceuticals and aerosols, food and drinks to building materials. The particles of the product in question, whether it is in solid, liquid or gas form are tested in order to determine its efficiency and quality. Practically, this process helps the manufacturer to evolve on the market and exceed others competitors. However, particle size analysis includes several techniques suitable for each industry and product meaning that the manufacturer has to know basic information concerning the characteristics in order to make a comparison between each technique, which will help him determine what the best option for his needs is. Some of the most popular particle size analysis methods are laser diffraction, dynamic light scattering and automated imaging.

First, it should be mentioned that you do not analyze the entire product you have to take a representative sample and disperse it, either in a liquid or in the air. We can safely state that laser diffraction is the most common method among manufacturers because they can apply it for a wide range of products and obtain fast results. The basic principle of this process is the usage of a laser beam that passes through the sample. The angles of light are opposite to the particle sizes meaning that for a small particle size we have a large angle of light and the other way around.  Thus, the particle size is determined according to the intensity of the light. Laser diffraction is composed of three elements, namely an optical bench, sample dispersion units and instrument software. The latter provides control during the whole process of analysis.

Dynamic light scattering is a non-invasive method suitable for small particles and macromolecules, which allows the observation and determination of important characteristics including weight, size and zeta potential. Practically, this technique establishes the size of a particle by placing it in a solution and analyzing the motion range. For a larger particle, the motion will obviously be smaller while for a small particle the movement will increase its speed. The changes in motion are carefully examined in order to provide a perfectly accurate result. Dynamic light scattering involves a stable laser, an optical arrangement and a detector. We have to mention that this process is considered time-consuming, which may represent a drawback for some people. For solid products, gas absorption is used to measure the surface area and pore size analysis.

Automated imaging involves three elements, namely sample dispersion and presentation, optics that captures the images and data analysis software. The first element is essential for obtaining best results because it ensures the separation of particles that will be captured latter with a digital camera. The last element offers relevant and accurate data regarding the particles properties. In short, this method captures multiple images of each particle, which helps to establish the exact measurement of shape and size. The main benefit of this method compared to the others mentioned above is that it can provide more data and more ways of measurement.

In conclusion, each industry has to determine what is the most appropriate and beneficial technique for their specific product. Companies like Escubed Limited provide analytical services with the purpose to help those who are trying to exceed their standards and manufacture high quality products. Due to their benefits, analytical methods are essential for industries development.