Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering Physics (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Physics


Mohan D Rao


Satellite measurement validations, climate models, atmospheric radiative transfer models and cloud models, all depend on accurate measurements of cloud particle size distributions, number densities, spatial distributions, and other parameters relevant to cloud microphysical processes. And many airborne instruments designed to measure size distributions and concentrations of cloud particles have large uncertainties in measuring number densities and size distributions of small ice crystals. HOLODEC (Holographic Detector for Clouds) is a new instrument that does not have many of these uncertainties and makes possible measurements that other probes have never made. The advantages of HOLODEC are inherent to the holographic method.

In this dissertation, I describe HOLODEC, its in-situ measurements of cloud particles, and the results of its test flights. I present a hologram reconstruction algorithm that has a sample spacing that does not vary with reconstruction distance. This reconstruction algorithm accurately reconstructs the field to all distances inside a typical holographic measurement volume as proven by comparison with analytical solutions to the Huygens-Fresnel diffraction integral. It is fast to compute, and has diffraction limited resolution. Further, described herein is an algorithm that can find the position along the optical axis of small particles as well as large complex-shaped particles. I explain an implementation of these algorithms that is an efficient, robust, automated program that allows us to process holograms on a computer cluster in a reasonable time.

I show size distributions and number densities of cloud particles, and show that they are within the uncertainty of independent measurements made with another measurement method. The feasibility of another cloud particle instrument that has advantages over new standard instruments is proven. These advantages include a unique ability to detect shattered particles using three-dimensional positions, and a sample volume size that does not vary with particle size or airspeed. It also is able to yield two-dimensional particle profiles using the same measurements.

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