The role of the medium in the effective-sphere interpretation of holographic particle characterization data
The in-line hologram of a micrometer-scale colloidal sphere can be analyzed with the Lorenz–Mie theory of light scattering to obtain precise measurements of the sphere's diameter and refractive index. The same technique also can be used to characterize porous and irregularly shaped colloidal particles provided that the extracted parameters are interpreted with effective-medium theory to represent the properties of an equivalent effective sphere. Here, we demonstrate that the effective-sphere model consistently accounts for changes in the refractive index of the medium as it fills the pores of porous particles and therefore yields quantitative information about such particles' structure and composition. In addition to the sample-averaged porosity, holographic perfusion porosimetry gauges the polydispersity of the porosity. We demonstrate these capabilities through measurements on mesoporous spheres, fractal protein aggregates and irregular nanoparticle agglomerates, all of which are noteworthy for their industrial significance.