Everything about Microspheres
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  • Particle Image Velocimetry and Tracer Particle Visibility

    Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV) expresses a vast field with varying techniques and data acquisition methods. However, the main goal is providing an optical method of flow visualization. The exact information obtained depends on which method is used, with new algorithms and approaches being discovered constantly.

    There are generally two ways data is obtained PIV and Particle Tracking Velocimetry (PTV) which can then be broken down into many other methods based on how exactly the data was obtained and the processing done to said data. PIV measures the velocity field of a fluid based on a Eulerian method where stated locations are observed over time to determine the flow. While PTV tracks the movement of singular particles over time, a Lagrangian approach. This provides a plot of the particles movement and by relation information about the fluid flow. They each use the same tracer particles however they look at them in different senses. If logs in a river are representations of our seed particles then PIV looks at the river and sees the logs moving through it determining how the river flows based on this information. While PTV watches the movement of individual logs to obtain similar information. Which leads to the assumption that tracking particles must be easily visualized.

    Visibility being an important aspect of tracer particles is a given but how those particles are visible is where differences can come about. Tracers can be visible if they block light from reaching the visualization mechanism (eye, camera, etc.) essentially being visible as a shadow. This method is known as backlit shadowgraphy where the flow is placed between an illumination source and a camera allowing for the absence of light (shadow) caused by tracer particles to be tracked.

    Reflective Silver Coated Hollow Glass

    Another approach to assuring particle visibility is using highly reflective spheres that will reflect in the direction of your camera set-up allowing them to appear as dots of high intensity light, of the illumination source used. Lasers are most commonly used as the illumination source for this form of particle visibility. As lasers have high power, high collimation, and a relatively tight emission bandwidth. Recently LED’s are also being used as the illumination source for reflectivity visualization methods as well as backlit shadowgraphy. LED’s may not currently have the power or collimation abilities of lasers but are consistently growing in power. LED’s also have a very limited emission spectrum as well as their ease of use and low cost compared to lasers.

    Fluorescent Tracer Particles

    Finally, some tracer particles can emit their own light which allows them to be an easily distinguishable wavelength from the illumination source which can often flood the visualization area. One of the most common examples of this would be fluorescent spheres. Which when excited by the illumination source will emit a different wavelength of light. This allows the wavelength of light used as your illumination source to be filtered out providing an image with just the light from tracers. Phosphorescent spheres fall into a category similar to fluorescent particles as phosphorescence emits light similarly to fluorescence. However, phosphorescence emits over longer periods of time. Another significant difference of phosphorescent materials is their unique temperature variance which allows for them to be used as a form of temperature sensor.

    With both PIV and PTV having their strengths and weaknesses there is no clear superior method. However, with advances in technology PTV is becoming more feasible and thus may overtake PIV methods due to its ability to provide greater data varieties. Visibility options also have their unique aspects that ensure their necessity in specific cases. Shadowgraphy is gaining traction in areas due to its reduced cost requirement and ease of use. While, fluorescent tracers remain as an ideal option for applications where shadowgraphy can not quite meet the necessary criteria.

  • Calculating microspheres per gram

    During scientific experiment design and analysis it is common to need to know the number of spheres per gram of dry material.  We have put together the table below to help speed up the process.

    If you have material of a density different from those listed in the table, divide the number of spheres per gram in the density ~1.0 g/cc column by the true particle density of your material to get an estimate of the number of spheres per gram.

    Product Size Polyethylene
    Density ~1.0 (g/cc)
    Soda Lime Glass
    Density ~2.5 (g/cc)
    Lower (um) Upper (um) Spheres per Gram Spheres Per Gram
    20 27 147,162,715 58,630,564
    27 32 74,393,558 29,638,868
    32 45 33,467,185 13,333,540
    45 53 16,233,536 6,467,544
    53 63 9,788,528 3,899,812
    63 75 5,813,720 2,316,223
    75 90 3,401,258 1,355,083
    90 106 2,029,192 808,443
    106 125 1,239,525 493,835
    125 150 734,672 292,698
    150 180 425,157 169,385
    180 212 253,649 101,055
    212 250 154,941 61,729
    250 300 91,834 36,587
    300 355 54,371 21,662
    355 425 32,196 12,827
    425 500 19,305 7,691
    500 600 11,479 4,573
    600 710 6,796 2,708
    710 850 4,025 1,603
    850 1000 2,413 961
    1180 1400 890 354
    1400 1700 513 204
    1700 2000 302 120
    2000 2360 184 73
    2360 2800 111 44
    2800 3350 66 26

    Note: This table assumes the mean diameter is half way between the upper and lower size.

  • Phosphorescent Microspheres – Long Afterglow Particles

    Phosphorecent Beads - Yellow Green Afterglow Spheres

    Phosphorecent Beads - Yellow Green Afterglow

    Phosphorescent microspheres in particle sizes 10 to 600 microns are now available from Cospheric LLC. These phosphorescent particles are 90% spherical and appear to be off-white under ordinary daylight or regular room illumination.  However, when the lights are turned off these phosphorescent particles exhibit phosphorescent yellow-green after-glow.

    The spheres have tight particle size distributions and are > 90% within size range.  Polymer spheres that incorporate proprietary phosphorescent ingredient have a melting point of 115°C , and are mechanically stable past 90°C.  Phosphorescent beads are also inert in most solvents.

    Phosphorescent Decay CurveIntensity of Phosphorescent Afterglow:

    Intensity according to DIN 67510-1

    800 mcd/m2 at 1 minute
    180 mcd/m2 at 5 minutes
    90 mcd/m2 at 10 minutes
    12 mcd/m2 at 1 hour
    5 mcd/m2 at 2 hours

    Excitation and Phosphorescent Emission Curve:
    Excitation and Emission Spectra