This is the author's peer-reviewed final manuscript, as accepted by the publisher. The published article is copyrighted by Springer and can be found at: http://link.springer.com/journal/348.Application of optical techniques such as PIV, PTV and LDA for velocity field estimation in porous media requires matching of refractive indices of the liquid phase to that of the solid matrix, including the channel walls. The methods most commonly employed to match the refractive indices have been to maximize the transmitted intensity through the bed or to rely on direct refractometer measurements of the indices of the two phases. Mismatch of refractive indices leads to error in estimation of particle position, ε[subscript PD], due to refraction at solid-liquid interfaces. Analytical ray tracing applied to a model of solid beads placed randomly along the optical path is used to estimate ε[subscript PD]. The model, after validating against experimental results, is used to generate expression for ε[subscript PD] as a function of refractive index mismatch for a range of bead diameters, bed widths, bed porosity, and optical magnification. The estimate of ε[subscript PD], which is found to be unbiased, is connected to errors in PIV measurement using the central limit theorem. Mismatch in refractive indices can also lead to reduction in particle density, N[subscript s], detected light flux, J, and degrade the particle image. The model, verified through experiments, is used to predict the reduction in N[subscript s] and J, where it is found that particle defocusing caused by spherical beads in refractive index mismatched porous bed is the primary contributor to reductions of N[subscript s] and J. In addition, the magnitude of ε[subscript PD] is determined for the use of fluorescent dye emission for particle detection due to wavelength dependent index of refraction
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