Brownian motion and correlation in particle image velocimetry

Michael G. Olsen, Ronald J. Adrian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


In particle image velocimetry applications involving either low velocities or small seed particles, Brownian motion can be significant. This paper addresses the effects of Brownian motion. First, general equations describing cross-correlation particle image velocimetry are derived that include Brownian motion. When light-sheet illumination particle image velocimetry (PIV) is used Brownian motion diminishes the signal strength. A parameter describing this effect is introduced, and a weighting function describing the contribution to the measured velocity as a function of position is derived. The latter is unaffected by Brownian motion. Microscopic PIV Brownian motion also diminishes the signal strength. The weighting function for microscopic PIV is found to depend on Brownian motion, thus affecting an important experimental parameter, the depth of correlation. For both light-sheet illumination and microscopic PIV, a major consequence of Brownian motion is the spreading of the correlation signal peak. Because the magnitude of the spreading is dependent on temperature, PIV can, in principle, be used to simultaneously measure velocity and temperature. The location of the signal peak provides the velocity data, while the spreading of the peak yields temperature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)621-627
Number of pages7
JournalOptics and Laser Technology
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - Oct 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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