Fully Automated Light Scattering Experiment

by cscholz, published

Fully Automated Light Scattering Experiment by cscholz Aug 25, 2017
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1120Views 93Downloads Found in Physics & Astronomy


A fully automated inexpensive($50) educational lab experiment to measure optical scattering, in particular polarization and angular cross-section.

On a beginner level the setup is suitable to measure scattering of light by optical gratings. In fact scattering from a CD-R surface is used to calibrate the angular servo control using the well-known equation "grating_constant x sine(nth scattering angle) = n x wavelength".

The experiment was developed in our laboratory physics courses to demonstrate Mie-scattering by microscopic colloidal particles. Mie-scattering refers to light scattering by objects that are comparable to the wavelength. This is typically used in expensive laboratory equipment, to determine size-distributions of colloidal suspensions.

The setup is controlled via an Arduino which fits in the bottom of the device. A small amount of soldering or a separate bread-board is required to assemble the device and should be possible on a undergraduate or even school level.

Detailed information, a list of required components, assembly instructions and software (OpenSCAD files; Arduino Firmware; Python & Octave scripts for analysis of measurements - all GPL licensed) can be found on our dedicated website: http://www.mss.cbi.fau.de/Mie-experiment

A live-demonstration of the measurement can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-WL2huUDuc

The device was featured in the 3/17 German issue of the Make magazine: https://www.heise.de/make/meldung/Guenstig-dank-Maker-Technik-Optik-Experiment-fuer-Schulen-und-Unis-3716721.html

For details on the experiment and explanation of the physics of Mie-scattering we published a scientific paper here:

C. Scholz, A. Sack, M. Heckel and T. Pöschel, Inexpensive Mie scattering experiment for the classroom manufactured by 3D printing, Eur. J. Phys. 37 055305 (2016)

All parts were printed using an FDM printer (Kühling & Kühling RepRap), PLA or ABS material with 20% filling and 80% for the base. Post-processing involves gluing and screwing together the individual parts and electronic components. Some minor adjustments might be needed to the components (servos, diodes, etc) that are available to you.

Print Settings


Kühling & Kühling


Doesn't Matter


20% - 80%

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