Particle size-shape distributions: the general spheroid problem. I. Mathematical model.

  • L M Orive
  • Published 1976 in Journal of microscopy


The development of stereological methods for the study of dilute phases of particles, voids or organelles embedded in a matrix, from measurements made on plane or linear intercepts through the aggregate, has deserved a great deal of effort. With almost no exception, the problem of describing the particulate phase is reduced to that of identifying the statistical distribution--histogram in practice--of a relevant size parameter, with the previous assumption that the particles are modelled by geometrical objects of a constant shape (e.g. spheres). Therefore, particles exhibiting a random variation about a given type of shape as well as a random variation in size, escape previous analyses. Such is the case of unequiaxed particles modelled by triaxial ellipsoids of variable size and eccentricity parameters. It has been conjectured (Moran, 1972) that this problem is indetermined in its generally (i.e. the elliptical sections do not furnish a sufficient information which permits a complete description of the ellipsoids). A proof of this conjecture is given in the Appendix. When the ellipsoids are biaxial (spheroids) and of the same type (prolate or oblate), the problem is identifiable. Previous attempts to solve it assume statistical independence between size and shape. A complete, theoretical solution of the spheroids problem--with the independence condition relaxed--is presented. A number of exact relationships--some of them of a striking simplicity--linking particle properties (e.g. mean-mean caliper length, mean axial ratio, correlation coefficient between principal diameters, etc.) on the one hand, with the major and minor dimensions of the ellipses of section on the other, emerge, and natural, consistent estimators of the mentioned properties are made easily accessible for practical computation. Finally, the scope and limitations of the mathematical model are discussed.


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@article{Orive1976ParticleSD, title={Particle size-shape distributions: the general spheroid problem. I. Mathematical model.}, author={L M Orive}, journal={Journal of microscopy}, year={1976}, volume={107 3}, pages={235-53} }