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Tomographic Particle Image Velocimetry using Smartphones and Colored Shadows

Andres A. Aguirre-Pablo, Meshal K. Alarfaj, Er Qiang Li, J. F. Hernández-Sánchez & Sigurdur T. Thoroddsen

(Black Paramagnetic Polyethylene: 212-250um)


We demonstrate the viability of using four low-cost smartphone cameras to perform Tomographic PIV. We use colored shadows to imprint two or three different time-steps on the same image. The back-lighting is accomplished with three sets of differently-colored pulsed LEDs. Each set of Red, Green & Blue LEDs is shone on a diffuser screen facing each of the cameras. We thereby record the RGB-colored shadows of opaque suspended particles, rather than the conventionally used scattered light. We subsequently separate the RGB color channels, to represent the separate times, with preprocessing to minimize noise and cross-talk. We use commercially available Tomo-PIV software for the calibration, 3-D particle reconstruction and particle-field correlations, to obtain all three velocity components in a volume. Acceleration estimations can be done thanks to the triple pulse illumination. Our test flow is a vortex ring produced by forcing flow through a circular orifice, using a flexible membrane, which is driven by a pressurized air pulse. Our system is compared to a commercial stereoscopic PIV system for error estimations. We believe this proof of concept experiment will make this technique available for education, industry and scientists for a fraction of the hardware cost needed for traditional Tomo-PIV.