Holographic characterization of contaminants in water: Differentiation of suspended particles in heterogeneous dispersions

Laura A. Philips, David B. Ruffner, Fook Chiong Cheong, Jaroslaw M. Blusewicz, Priya Kasimbeg, Basma Waisi, Jeffrey R. McCutcheon, David G. Grier

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Determining the size distribution and composition of particles suspended in water can be challenging in heterogeneous multicomponent samples. Light scattering techniques can measure the distribution of particle sizes, but provide no basis for distinguishing different types of particles. Direct imaging techniques can categorize particles by shape, but offer few insights into their composition. Holographic characterization meets this need by directly measuring the size, refractive index, and three-dimensional position of individual particles in a suspension. The ability to measure an individual colloidal particle's refractive index is a unique capability of holographic characterization. Holographic characterization is fast enough, moreover, to build up population distribution data in real time, and to track time variations in the concentrations of different dispersed populations of particles. We demonstrate these capabilities using a model system consisting of polystyrene microbeads co-dispersed with bacteria in an oil-in-water emulsion. We also demonstrate how the holographic fingerprint of different contaminants can contribute to identifying their source.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)431-439
    Number of pages9
    JournalWater Research
    StatePublished - 2017


    • Bacteria
    • Colloid
    • Concentration measurement
    • Emulsion
    • Holographic microscopy
    • Particle characterization

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Water Science and Technology
    • Ecological Modeling
    • Pollution
    • Waste Management and Disposal
    • Environmental Engineering
    • Civil and Structural Engineering


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