Particle Size Analysis

Across most sectors, the particle size of their products and materials is a critical parameter in their manufacture. Changing the particle size distribution of a material has a massive impact on its characteristics and it’s behaviour either during its manufacture, within the final product or on its effects within the environment.

For example, the particle size distribution of a product like coffee greatly impacts its taste and quality. As discussed in Malvern Panlytical’s Application Note : MRK781-01.

The key factors which need to be considered include:

  • The degree of roasting, with longer roasting times yielding a stronger taste
  • The particle size of the ground material.
  • The particle size must be controlled in order to ensure that the desired flavour is achieved during brewing within a reasonable time period. If the particle size is too large then brewing may take many minutes. Milling to a finer particle size increases the overall particle surface area, leading to more rapid extraction of any flavour components. However, the extraction of bitter components during brewing becomes more likely. Very fine grinds also give greater water resistance in the coffee machine and therefore require more pressure to push water through the grind during brewing, again affect the final taste. The more uniform the particle size, the more control the brewer has in determining the strength of the final product.

    Another example of why particle size and particle size distribution of a material is so important is the effect this may have on its rheological behaviour. In some material systems, maintaining a constant mass of particles in a suspension while reducing the particle size of the solid phase leads to an increase in the number of particles in the system. A higher number of smaller particles results in more particle-particle interactions and an increased resistance to flow; which results in a higher viscosity.

    In addition to these examples particle size can influence;

  • Dissolution rate
  • Flowability / Pump rates
  • Stability
  • Appearance
  • Safety
  • Environmental Impact
  • A current hot topic both nationally and worldwide is surrounding how a material’s particle size distribution effects the safety of that material. For example, if the material has a high fraction of particles within the respirable range – PM1, PM2.5 or PM10, how does this impact on the health of either the workers in the factories and laboratories or further down the line during its intended use to the general public.

    Classification of whether a material comes under the EU definition (2011/696/EU) of a nano material is also a key question when it comes to safety of a product and its subsequent registration under the REACH regulations.

    For more information on how escubed can test your Nanomaterials see our Application Note;

    Nanomaterials Application Note

    escubed offer a range of measurement techniques and particle size analysis testing methods that covers virtually all materials — wet or dry, ranging from 0.3nm to 4mm in size. Our expert scientists can help select the most appropriate test for your material/system from the following:

  • Dynamic light scattering/photon correlation spectroscopy
  • Laser diffraction
  • Electrozone sensing
  • Sieving
  • Centrifugal sedimentation
  • Particle Tracking
  • Imaging
  • SEM (EDS optional)
  • TEM
  • Electron
  • XMT
  • Optical

  • Depending on the technique used, we can report:

  • Particle size distribution – weighted to volume, number or surface area
  • Polydispersity

  • Additionally, escubed offer a fully validated method development service.

    Get in touch for a quote or to find out more about how we can support you ….

    Laser Diffraction

    One of the most robust methods for particle sizing, laser diffraction techniques measure the intensity of light scattered by particles of an unknown size over a range of angles. The resulting pattern of scattering is deconvolved and a theoretical pattern generated using Mie theory is matched to it.

    mastersizer 3000

    Our scientists work with clients across many industries and are experienced in measuring a variety of samples from dry powders and slurries to emulsions. If your samples are soluble in water we can measure them in a non-aqueous dispersant, or use a surfactant if it wets poorly. Additionally, we can report means weighted results according to volume, number or surface area.


    escubed have use of a Malvern Mastersizer 2000 and 3000 with multiple cells, enabling us to measure samples with a variety of properties:

  • Small sample volumes (for high value or hazardous samples)
  • Samples with poor wettability
  • Aqueous and non-aqueous
  • Dry samples

  • Testing Pos with number

    escubed limited is UKAS accredited testing laboratory No. 8467 for particle sizing by Laser Diffraction

    Testing Schedule

    Laser Diffraction Application Note

    Dynamic Light Scattering/(DLS)

    Light hitting particles in a solution is scattered, and according to the degree of interference from Brownian motion, the change in intensity of this scattered light over a period of time is detected. As long as the viscosity and temperature of the dispersant are known, this variation in light intensity can be used with the Stokes-Einstein relationship to calculate particle size, distribution and polydispersity.

    Ideally suited to high value samples in small quantities and nanoparticles, our scientists have experience in measuring the size of a variety of molecules from peptides to gold.


    escubed limited use a Malvern Zetasizer Nano ZS which measures:

    zetasizer nano zs  
  • 3nm – 10µm size range
  • Polydispersity analysis
  • Aqueous and non-aqueous samples
  • 12µL sample volume
  • Measurement of dilute samples
  • Additionally, we can use the Zetasizer for laser doppler micro-electrophoresis to report Zeta potential and measure the iso-electric point in combination with the autotitrator.

    Electrozone Sensing

    The Coulter technique requires particles to be suspended in a conductive liquid and drawn through an aperture between two electrodes. The two electrodes generate a current across the aperture and as the particles are drawn through it, the current is disrupted. This generates a pulse that is amplified, counted and analysed.

    Our scientists most frequently use the Beckman Coulter Multisizer to analyse samples such as stack emissions and filtrates. We have several aperture sizes which can be combined to provide a particle count over a greater size range.


    multisizer 4

    Escubed are able to measure particle size and count using a Beckman Coulter Multisizer IV. We have several aperture sizes available to measure a particle size distribution of between 0.4µm-448µm and can perform a multi-tube analysis for samples with a high polydispersity. We can report particle count and size distribution by volume, diameter and area, as a percentage or per ml pf both aqueous and non-aqueous samples.

    Retsch AS200


    Samples under sieve analysis are poured into the top of a vibrating column of sieves with descending mesh sizes and mechanically shaken using a Retsch Sieve Shaker. The sieves are weighed and the distribution of particles is reported as a percentage.

    Ideally suited to more granular samples, Escubed have experience in working to ASTM standards and can offer the use of calibrated and certified meshes in sizes 32µm to 4cm.

    Centrifugal Sedimentation

    Our scientists can help you understand the particle size distribution of your materials using the CPS Disc Centrifuge.


    Sedimentation of particles in a fluid has long been used to characterise particle size distribution. Stokes’ law is used to determine an unknown distribution of spherical particle sizes by measuring the time required for the particles to settle a known distance in a fluid of known viscosity and density. Sedimentation can be either gravitational or centrifugal. Relying on gravity to produce a settling effect takes a long time and renders the sedimentation method unsuitable for nano-sized particles. However, if a large centrifugal force is applied to the system the experimental time is reduced and the lower size limit that the particles may be measured is greatly reduced. Using this principal, the CPS Disc can measure particles in the range of 5nm to 75µm

    Differential Centrifugal Sedimentation Application Note



    As well as providing data on sample stability, escubed’s LUMiSizer also uses STEP profiles to extrapolate particle size data by measuring the amount of light transmitted through a sample, in either one part of the sample or across the entire cell, over time. The LUMiSizer holds 12 samples and is best suited to analysing emulsions and suspensions.

    Nanoparticle Tracking


    Based on optical microscopy techniques, the Nanosight LM10 utilised by escubed has a laser for a light source and measures particles on a near-black background. It automatically tracks and sizes individual particles identified by Brownian motion in polydisperse and multimodal samples. Additionally, the Nanosight can record clips of individual particles being tracked.

    Escubed are able to offer the use of this technique for samples containing nanoparticles in a range of 10nm to 2000nm in any non-corrosive solvent and water.

    Nanosight Application Note

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