The importance of particle characterization in both the research and development, and the manufacture and quality control of materials and products that we use in our everyday lives is, in some sense, invisible to those of us not directly involved with these activities. Few of us know how particle size, shape, or surface characteristics can influence, for example, the efficacy of a painreliever, or the efficiency of a catalytic converter, or the resolution of a printer. The ever-increasing demand for standardization (promoted in large part by organizations such as ISO) has led to a greater awareness of the many ways in which the characteristics of a particle can impact the quality and performance of the objects that make up so much of the world that surrounds us.
Particle characterization has become an indispensable tool in many industrial processes, where more and more researchers rely on information obtained from particle characterization to interpret results and to guide or determine future directions or to assess the progress of their investigations. The study of particle characterization, as well as the other branches of particle science and technology, has traditionally not received much emphasis in higher education, especially in the USA. The subject of particle characterization might be covered in a chapter of a text, or a short section taught in one of the courses in the departments of chemical engineering or material science. There are only a handful of journals, all having low impact factors (the ratio of the number of citation to the number of published articles for a specific journal) in the field of particle characterization. Thus, unlike other branches of engineering, the knowledge of particle characterization, or even particle technology in general, cannot be accessed systematically through a college education. In most cases, such knowledge is accumulated through long years of experience.