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Sub-picoliter Traceability of Microdroplet Gravimetry and Microscopy

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posted on 2023-01-12, 14:02 authored by Lindsay C. C. Elliott, Adam L. Pintar, Craig R. Copeland, Thomas B. Renegar, Ronald G. Dixson, B. Robert Ilic, R. Michael Verkouteren, Samuel M. Stavis
Gravimetry typically lacks the resolution to measure single microdroplets, whereas microscopy is often inaccurate beyond the resolution limit. To address these issues, we advance and integrate these complementary methods, introducing simultaneous measurements of the same microdroplets, comprehensive calibrations that are independently traceable to the International System of Units (SI), and Monte-Carlo evaluations of volumetric uncertainty. We achieve sub-picoliter agreement of measurements of microdroplets in flight with volumes of approximately 70 pL, with ensemble gravimetry and optical microscopy both yielding 95% coverage intervals of +/- 0.6 pL, or relative uncertainties of +/- 0.9%, and root-mean-square deviations of mean values between the two methods of 0.2 pL or 0.3%. These uncertainties match previous gravimetry results and improve upon previous microscopy results by an order of magnitude. Gravimetry precision depends on the continuity of droplet formation, whereas microscopy accuracy requires that optical diffraction from an edge reference matches that from a microdroplet. Applying our microscopy method, we jet and image water microdroplets suspending fluorescent nanoplastics, count nanoplastic particles after deposition and evaporation, and transfer volumetric traceability to number concentration. We expect that our methods will impact diverse fields involving dimensional metrology and volumetric analysis of microdroplets, including inkjet microfabrication, disease transmission, and industrial sprays.



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