National Physical Laboratory

Aerosol Measurements

Aerosol chamber

Aerosol Chamber Characteristics

The radiative properties of aerosols are one of the biggest uncertainties in climate change models and aerosols are also a crucial element in air quality. Optical measurements of aerosols are key as they provide a direct measurement of the radiative properties, and can provide remote measurements of spatial distribution and evolution.

NPL has developed a new facility within which well-controlled dispersions of nano- and micro-particles can be mixed, conditioned and sampled. A variety of particle generating and detecting instrumentation can be used with the facility allowing instruments to be tested against a wide range of mixtures. The facility also offers measurement windows at different angles, so it is possible to measure forward and side scattering. 24 sampling ports enable simultaneous measurements using a range of different techniques. The facility provides:

  • Generation of well-controlled dispersions of nano- and micro-particles
  • Multiparameter measurements of aerosol properties for climate research
  • Instrument intercomparisons
  • Condensation Particle Counter calibration, accredited to ISO 17025
  • Calibration and advice on vehicle (PMP) requirements
  • Field measurements of particle number concentration, size distribution and mass


Type Size Range (nm) Max Concentration
Atomiser 10 to 1,000 1.E+07 1.8 Solutes, e.g. NaCl, sucrose, nitrates, sulphates, oil
Electrospray 5 to 100 1.E+07 1.4 As for Atomiser
Suspension plus DMA to improve selection 50 to 1,000 1.E+07
1.1 PSL reference spheres, gold, proteins
CAST - Combustion Aerosol Standard 26,55,85,117,156 or [26+156] 1.E+07
Black carbon
VOAG - Vibrating Orifice Aerosol Generator 1,000 to 200,000 1.E+03 <1.01 As for Atomiser, but mono-dispersed

Measurement Instrumentation

Type Size Range (nm) Max Concentration
Response Time
CPC - Condensation Particle Counter (UKAS Accreditation) 4 to 1,000 1.E+07 1 sec
SMPS - Scanning Mobility Particle Sizer 10 to 1,000 1.E+07 3 mins
FPS - Fast Particulate Spectrometer 10 to 2,500 1.E+07 0.1 sec
TEOM - Tapered Element Oscillation Microbalance Mass measurement >10 µg/m3 5 mins
Filters and Precipitation Mass and composition N/A N/A
OPC - Optical Particle Counter 200 to 10,000+ 1.E+04 1 sec
Electrostatic Precipitator Capture particles on substrate 1.E+107 30 mins

Download our flyer for more information on our aerosol measurements Adobe Acrobat PDF file


Customer enquiry line: 020 8943 8681

Last Updated: 29 Jun 2015
Created: 30 Oct 2013


Please note that the information will not be divulged to third parties, or used without your permission