Measurement of 100 nm and 60 nm particle standards by differential mobility analysis

George W. Mulholland, Michelle K. Donnelly, Charles R. Hagwood, Scott R. Kukuck, Vincent A. Hackley, David Y.H. Pui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


The peak particle size and expanded uncertainties (95% confidence interval) for two new particle calibration standards are measured as 101.8 nm ± 1.1 nm and 60.39 nm ± 0.63 nm. The particle samples are polystyrene spheres suspended in filtered, deionized water at a mass fraction of about 0.5%. The size distribution measurements of aerosolized particles are made using a differential mobility analyzer (DMA) system calibrated using SRM® 1963 (100.7 nm polystyrene spheres). An electrospray aerosol generator was used for generating the 60 nm aerosol to almost eliminate the generation of multiply charged dimers and trimers and to minimize the effect of non-volatile contaminants increasing the particle size. The testing for the homogeneity of the samples and for the presence of multimers using dynamic light scattering is described. The use of the transfer function integral in the calibration of the DMA is shown to reduce the uncertainty in the measurement of the peak particle size compared to the approach based on the peak in the concentration vs. voltage distribution. A modified aerosol/sheath inlet, recirculating sheath flow, a high ratio of sheath flow to the aerosol flow, and accurate pressure, temperature, and voltage measurements have increased the resolution and accuracy of the measurements. A significant consideration in the uncertainty analysis was the correlation between the slip correction of the calibration particle and the measured particle. Including the correlation reduced the expanded uncertainty from approximately 1.8% of the particle size to about 1.0%. The effect of non-volatile contaminants in the polystyrene suspensions on the peak particle size and the uncertainty in the size is determined. The full size distributions for both the 60 nm and 100 nm spheres are tabulated and selected mean sizes including the number mean diameter and the dynamic light scattering mean diameter are computed. The use of these particles for calibrating DMAs and for making deposition standards to be used with surface scanning inspection systems is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-312
Number of pages56
JournalJournal of Research of the National Institute of Standards and Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2006


  • Differential mobility analysis
  • Dynamic light scattering
  • Electrical mobility
  • Electrospray aerosol generation
  • Particle size calibration standards
  • Transfer function

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