New particle analysis technique paves way for better air pollution monitoring | 3/20/2018 | Staff
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A new technique for continuously monitoring both the size and optical properties of individual airborne particles could offer a better way to monitor air pollution. It is especially promising for analyzing fine particulate matter measuring less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5), which can reach deep into the lungs and cause health problems.

"Air pollution has become an essential problem in many countries," said research team leader Shangran Xie from the group of Prof. Philip Russell at Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Germany. "Since our setup is very simple and compact, it should be possible to turn it into a table-top device for continuously monitoring airborne PM2.5 in urban areas and industrial sites."

Optical - Society - OSA - Journal - Optics

In The Optical Society (OSA) journal Optics Express, the researchers describe how they used optical forces to automatically capture particles in the air and propel them into a hollow core fiber for analysis. The approach overcomes several limitations of existing methods by offering highly reproducible, real-time results and an unlimited device lifetime.

"The most unique feature of our technique is that it can count the number of particles—which is related to the level of pollution—while simultaneously providing detailed real-time information on particle size distribution and chemical dispersion," said Xie. "This additional information could be useful for fast and continuous pollution monitoring in sensitive areas, for example."

Analysis - Approach - Particles - Laser - Beam

For the new analysis approach, airborne particles are trapped inside a laser beam by optical forces and propelled forwards by radiation pressure. The trapping force is strong enough to overcome the gravitational force acting on very small particles such as PM2.5 and automatically aligns the particles with a hollow-core photonic...
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