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Accounting for optical errors in microtensiometry

Hinton, Zachary R., Alvarez, Nicolas J.
Journal of colloid and interface science 2018 v.526 pp. 392-399
image analysis, models, surface tension
Drop shape analysis (DSA) techniques measure interfacial tension subject to error in image analysis and the optical system. While considerable efforts have been made to minimize image analysis errors, very little work has treated optical errors. There are two main sources of error when considering the optical system: the angle of misalignment and the choice of focal plane. Due to the convoluted nature of these sources, small angles of misalignment can lead to large errors in measured curvature. We demonstrate using microtensiometry the contributions of these sources to measured errors in radius, and, more importantly, deconvolute the effects of misalignment and focal plane. Our findings are expected to have broad implications on all optical techniques measuring interfacial curvature.A geometric model is developed to analytically determine the contributions of misalignment angle and choice of focal plane on measurement error for spherical cap interfaces. This work utilizes a microtensiometer to validate the geometric model and to quantify the effect of both sources of error. For the case of a microtensiometer, an empirical calibration is demonstrated that corrects for optical errors and drastically simplifies implementation.The combination of geometric modeling and experimental results reveal a convoluted relationship between the true and measured interfacial radius as a function of the misalignment angle and choice of focal plane. The validated geometric model produces a full operating window that is strongly dependent on the capillary radius and spherical cap height. In all cases, the contribution of optical errors is minimized when the height of the spherical cap is equivalent to the capillary radius, i.e. a hemispherical interface. The understanding of these errors allow for correct measure of interfacial curvature and interfacial tension regardless of experimental setup. For the case of microtensiometry, this greatly decreases the time for experimental setup and increases experiential accuracy. In a broad sense, this work outlines the importance of optical errors in all DSA techniques. More specifically, these results have important implications for all microscale and microfluidic measurements of interface curvature.