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Fraunhofer Diffraction Theory and Mie

Scattering Theory
Particle Size Analyzers Lecture on Partical Analysis - Hands-on Course With the laser diffraction/scattering method, particle size is specified from the light intensity
distribution pattern. For this, the correspondence relationship between particle size and light
intensity distribution pattern must be known in advance. The Fraunhofer diffraction theory
and Mie scattering theory are used to obtain this relationship. That is, these theories are used
to calculate what kind of light intensity distribution patterns are produced by particles of
various sizes, and this data is stored beforehand on a computer as a parameter table
(numerical table) containing a vast amount of information.
A considerable amount of time is required for calculating this parameter table. However, in
actual measurement of particle size distribution, the measurement time is not affected at all
since there are parameter tables already calculated and stored in computer memory.
Ok, then. Let's take a look at the relationship between the Fraunhofer diffraction theory and
Mie scattering theory.
In a word, the Fraunhofer diffraction theory is one of the approximate expressions of the Mie
scattering theory. This approximate expression can be used only when the following two
conditions are satisfied:
The particle size is relatively large (at least, 10 times the laser wavelength)
The scattering angle is small (30 or less)

In a range in which these conditions are satisfied, the Fraunhofer diffraction theory can be
used as a fairly valid approximate expression of the Mie scattering theory. Yet, when the
particle size is smaller than ten times the laser wavelength, in particular, in measurement in
the sub-micron region, the Fraunhofer diffraction theory can no longer be used since a wideangle light intensity distribution pattern is required. In this case, the Mie scattering theory
must always be used.
The Mie scattering theory is extremely complex and harder to understand than the Fraunhofer
diffraction theory. This requires more complex programming and a fairly fast computer. It
was for this reason that the Fraunhofer diffraction theory was only used in the past. On
models that use only the Fraunhofer diffraction theory, measurement in the sub-micron region
is impossible.

On the other hand, when the particle size is extremely large, the phenomenon of calculation
error building up and causing inaccurate calculation results sometimes occurs if the Mie
scattering theory is applied as it is to calculate the light intensity distribution pattern. Only in
cases such as these, more accurate calculation results can be obtained for the light intensity
distribution pattern by using the approximate expression provided by the Fraunhofer
diffraction theory.
This is why the Fraunhofer diffraction theory and Mie scattering theory are jointly used at
present for calculating the light intensity distribution pattern to ensure that a wide
measurement range is covered.
Nevertheless, the Fraunhofer diffraction theory is merely used as a simple approximate
expression of the Mie scattering theory only when the particle size is extremely large and the
scattering angle is small. In this sense, the expression "jointly used" might be inappropriate
since it will invite misunderstanding. It may be more appropriate to simply say that the light
intensity distribution pattern is calculated based on the Mie scattering theory for all particle
sizes.
So that the light intensity distribution pattern is calculated by using the Mie scattering theory,
the refractive index of the particles and medium (liquid medium) must be set. Even when the
particle size is the same, if it is smaller than ten times the laser wavelength, the light intensity
distribution pattern will be slightly different depending on the refractive index. So, on actual
analyzers, many parameter tables set with different refractive indices are stored in memory
for use. In actual measurement, a different parameter table is selected according to the
refractive index to be used as a measurement condition.
On the SALD Series, selection for the refractive index is to be made, and completely separate
parameter tables are selected in the case of wet measurement and dry measurement. For wet
measurement, the refractive index of water is set to calculate the parameter table. And, for
wet measurement, the refractive index of air is set for calculating the parameter table.