Application of empirical mode decomposition in the field of polymer physics

Shankar Kollengodu-Subramanian, Babji Srinivasan, Jing Zhao, Raghunathan Rengaswamy, Gregory B. McKenna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Noisy data has always been a problem to the experimental community. Effective removal of noise from data is important for better understanding and interpretation of experimental results. Over the years, several methods have evolved for filtering the noise present in the data. Fast Fourier transform (FFT) based filters are widely used because they provide precise information about the frequency content of the experimental data, which is used for filtering of noise. However, FFT assumes that the experimental data is stationary. This means that: (i) the deterministic part of the experimental data obtained from a system is at steady state without any transients and has frequency components which do not vary with respect to time and (ii) noise corrupting the experimental data is wide sense stationary, that is, mean and variance of the noise does not statistically vary with respect to time. Several approaches, for example, short time Fourier transform (STFT) and wavelet transform-based filters, have been developed to handle transient data corrupted with nonstationary noise (mean and variance of noise varies with respect to time) data. Both these approaches provide time and frequency information about the data (time at which a particular frequency is present in the signal). However, these filtering approaches have the following drawbacks: (i) STFT requires identification of an optimal window length within which the data is stationary, which is difficult and (ii) there are theoretical limits on simultaneous time and frequency resolution. Hence, filtering of noise is compromised. Recently, empirical mode decomposition (EMD) has been used in several applications to decompose a given nonstationary data segment into several characteristic oscillatory components called intrinsic mode functions (IMFs). Fourier transform of these IMFs identifies the frequency content in the signal, which can be used for removal of noisy IMFs and reconstruction of the filtered signal. In this work, we propose an algorithm for effective filtering of noise using an EMD-based FFT approach for applications in polymer physics. The advantages of the proposed approach are: (i) it uses the precise frequency information provided by the FFT and, therefore, efficiently filters a wide variety of noise and (ii) the EMD approach can effectively obtain IMFs from both nonstationary as well as nonlinear experimental data. The utility of the proposed approach is illustrated using an analytical model and also through two typical laboratory experiments in polymer physics wherein the material response is nonstationary; standard filtering approaches are often inappropriate in such cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-290
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Polymer Science, Part B: Polymer Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2011


  • ageing
  • data filtering
  • dielectric properties
  • empirical mode decomposition
  • time domain spectroscopy


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