The year 2008 marks the centenary of the seminal paper by Gustav Mie on electromagnetic scattering by homogeneous spherical particles. Having been cited in almost 4,000 journal articles since 1955 (according to the Science Citation Index Expanded database), Mie s paper has been among the more influential scientific publications of the twentieth century. It has affected profoundly the development of a great variety of natural science disciplines including atmospheric radiation, meteorological optics, remote sensing, aerosol physics, astrophysics, and biomedical optics. Mies paper represented a fundamental advancement over the earlier publications by Ludvig Lorenz in that it was explicitly based on the Maxwell equations, gave the final solution in a convenient form suitable for practical computations, and imparted physical reality to the abstract concept of electromagnetic scattering. The Mie solution anticipated such general concepts as far-field scattering and the Sommerfeld-Silver-Müller boundary conditions at infinity as well as paved the way to such important extensions as the separation of variables method for spheroids and the T-matrix method. Key ingredients of the Mie theory are quite prominent in the superposition T-matrix method for clusters of particles and even in the recent microphysical derivation of the radiative transfer equation. Among the most illustrative uses of the Mie solution have been the explanation of the spectacular optical displays caused by cloud and rain droplets, the identification of sulfuric acid particles in the atmosphere of Venus from Earth-based polarimetry, and optical particle characterization based on measurements of morphology-dependent resonances. Yet it is clear that the full practical potential of the Mie theory is still to be revealed.

This content is only available as a PDF.


NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, New York