Microelectromechanical-system-based condensation particle counter for real-time monitoring of airborne ultrafine particles
We present a portable, inexpensive, and accurate microelectromechanical-system-based (MEMS-based) condensation particle counter (CPC) for sensitive and precise monitoring of airborne ultrafine particles (UFPs) at a point of interest. A MEMS-based CPC consists of two main parts: a MEMS-based condensation chip that grows UFPs to micro-sized droplets and a miniature optical particle counter (OPC) that counts single grown droplets with the light scattering method. A conventional conductive cooling-type CPC is miniaturized through MEMS technology and three-dimensional (3-D) printing techniques; the essential elements for growing droplets are integrated on a single glass slide. Our system is much more compact (75 mm × 130 mm × 50 mm), lightweight (205 g), and power-efficient (2.7 W) than commercial CPCs. In quantitative experiments, the results indicated that our system could detect UFPs with a diameter of 12.9 nm by growing them to micro-sized (3.1 µm) droplets. Our system measured the UFP number concentration with high accuracy (mean difference within 4.1 %), and the number concentration range for which our system can count single particles is 7.99–6850 cm−3. Thus, our system has the potential to be used for UFP monitoring in various environments (e.g., as an air filtration system, in high-precision industries utilizing clean rooms, and in indoor and outdoor atmospheres).