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Open Access On the Effect of Particle Alignment in the DMA

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The Differential Mobility Analyzer (DMA) is designed to measure particle mobility diameter, which for spherical particles is equal to particle volume equivalent diameter. In contrast, the mobility diameter of aspherical particles is a function of the particle shape and orientation. The magnitude of the DMA electric fields is such that it can cause aspherical particles to align preferentially in a specific orientation. The same electric field and the sheath flow rate (qsh) define the particle mobility diameter. But, the fact that particle orientation depends on the electric field makes the dynamic shape factor and hence the mobility diameter depend on qsh. Here, we describe an operating procedure that relies on a tandem DMA system, in which the second DMA is operated at a number of qsh, to obtain information about particle shape by measuring the effect of particle alignment on the particle mobility diameter. We show how the relationship between the mobility diameter and qsh can even be used to physically separate particles according to their shapes. In addition we explore the use of simultaneous measurements of particle alignment and particle vacuum aerodynamic diameters to gain further information on particle shape and account for particle alignment in the calculations of dynamic shape factor. We first test this approach on doublets and compact triplets of PSL spheres, for which the orientation dependent dynamic shape factors are known. We then investigate applications on a number of polydisperse particle systems of various shapes.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington, USA 2: Imre Consulting, Richland, Washington, USA

Publication date: 2007-02-01

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