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Pore Size Test and the Science Behind it

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

Pore size is a critical factor that significantly impacts the properties and performance of materials in diverse industries. It refers to the distance between two opposite walls of a pore and determines the size of openings in materials like filters, membranes, and solids. This blog post aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of pore size, including its measurement techniques, significance, and applications across various sectors.

What is Pore Size test?

mercury intrusion porosimetry

Pore size test is a quantitative measurement of the dimensions of pores within a material. Typically expressed in micrometres (µm) or nanometers (nm), it ranges from tiny nanoscale pores to larger micropores or macropores, depending on the material and its intended purpose.

The size of these openings impacts critical material properties, such as permeability, adsorption, and mechanical characteristics.

Significance of Pore Size

instruments used in pore size testing
  • Permeability: Pore size directly influences the permeability of a material to liquids, gases, or other substances. Smaller pore sizes restrict fluid flow, leading to lower permeability. Conversely, larger pore sizes facilitate easier movement, resulting in higher permeability. This property is pivotal in filtration applications, where the right pore size ensures optimal filtration efficiency.

  • Adsorption and Absorption: Pore size plays a crucial role in adsorption and absorption processes. Smaller pores offer a larger surface area, enhancing adsorption capacity. On the other hand, larger pores enable increased absorption by providing ample space for liquids or gases to be absorbed and retained within the material's structure. This characteristic finds relevance in drug delivery systems and other industries requiring controlled absorption.

  • Mechanical Properties: Pore size impacts the mechanical properties of materials. Smaller pores contribute to increased stiffness and strength due to reduced stress concentration. Conversely, larger pores enhance energy absorption, making materials suitable for applications demanding impact resistance or cushioning.

  • Measuring Pore Size: Several techniques are available for measuring pore size, catering to different ranges and material types. Common methods include mercury intrusion porosimetry, nitrogen adsorption-desorption analysis, and microscopy-based techniques such as scanning electron microscopy (SEM) or transmission electron microscopy (TEM). These techniques offer valuable insights into pore size distribution, volume, and morphology.

Applications across Industries

diverse industries where pore size's crucial role (filtration, construction, materials science).

Pore size finds applications in various industries, including:

  • Filtration: Pore size determines the effectiveness of filtration processes, such as water purification and air filtration, by allowing specific particles or contaminants to be trapped while permitting the desired fluid to pass through.

  • Construction: Pore size impacts the strength, durability, and permeability of building materials. Materials with smaller pore sizes exhibit greater resistance to water damage and offer improved longevity.

  • Materials Science: Pore size influences the mechanical, thermal, and adsorption properties of materials. Understanding and controlling pore size enables the development of materials with tailored characteristics for specific applications.


Pore size is a critical parameter that shapes the properties and functionality of materials across industries. By comprehending pore size and its implications, scientists, engineers, and manufacturers can make informed decisions regarding material selection, optimisation, and product development.

Accurate measurement techniques and a deep understanding of the impact of pore size enable the creation of innovative solutions with enhanced performance characteristics, meeting the evolving needs of various sectors.


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