On the feasibility of a number concentration calibration using a wafer surface scanner

Lin Li, George W. Mulholland, Laura Windmuller, Miles C. Owen, Shigeru Kimoto, David Y.H. Pui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


A new primary standard method for calibrating optical particle counters (OPC) has been developed based on quantitative gravitational deposition on a silicon wafer and accurate counting of the particles by a wafer surface scanner (WSS). The test aerosol consists of 3-m diameter monodisperse polystyrene latex (PSL) spheres at concentrations in the range of 0.1 cm-3 to 1 cm -3. A key element to the calibration is the ability to generate monodisperse PSL spheres without residue particles by use of a virtual impactor and differential mobility analyzer. The use of these devices reduced the percentage of residue particles from more than 99.98% to about 5%. The expanded relative uncertainty (95% confidence level) in the number concentration determined with a WSS for a deposition of 200 particles is 17.8%. The major uncertainty component arises from the Poisson fluctuations in the aerosol concentration because of the low concentration. This methodology has advantages of a fast scanning time by the WSS of minutes compared to hours or days by microscopy and of counting every particle deposited compared to often only a small fraction via microscopy.The WSS was used in the calibration of an OPC based on 12 depositions with concentrations ranging from 0.1 cm-3 to 1 cm-3 for each deposition. Make-up air was added to the aerosol entering the OPC so that the lowest achievable concentration for the OPC measurement is about 0.01 cm-3 in this study. The detection efficiency of the OPC was measured to be 0.984 with an expanded uncertainty of 13.4%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)747-757
Number of pages11
JournalAerosol Science and Technology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 3 2014


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