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Journal Article

Chemical composition of nanoparticles from α-pinene nucleation and the influence of isoprene and relative humidity at low temperature


Müller,  Tatjana
Atmospheric Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Caudillo, L., Rörup, B., Heinritzi, M., Marie, G., Simon, M., Wagner, A. C., et al. (2021). Chemical composition of nanoparticles from α-pinene nucleation and the influence of isoprene and relative humidity at low temperature. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 21(22), 17099-17114. doi:10.5194/acp-21-17099-2021.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000A-782F-C
Biogenic organic precursors play an important role in atmospheric new particle formation (NPF). One of the major precursor species is α-pinene, which upon oxidation can form a suite of products covering a wide range of volatilities. Highly oxygenated organic molecules (HOMs) comprise a fraction of the oxidation products formed. While it is known that HOMs contribute to secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation, including NPF, they have not been well studied in newly formed particles due to their very low mass concentrations. Here we present gas- and particle-phase chemical composition data from experimental studies of α-pinene oxidation, including in the presence of isoprene, at temperatures (−50 and −30 ∘C) and relative humidities (20 % and 60 %) relevant in the upper free troposphere. The measurements took place at the CERN Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets (CLOUD) chamber. The particle chemical composition was analyzed by a thermal desorption differential mobility analyzer (TD-DMA) coupled to a nitrate chemical ionization–atmospheric pressure interface–time-of-flight (CI-APi-TOF) mass spectrometer. CI-APi-TOF was used for particle- and gas-phase measurements, applying the same ionization and detection scheme. Our measurements revealed the presence of C8−10 monomers and C18−20 dimers as the major compounds in the particles (diameter up to ∼ 100 nm). Particularly, for the system with isoprene added, C5 (C5H10O5−7) and C15 compounds (C15H24O5−10) were detected. This observation is consistent with the previously observed formation of such compounds in the gas phase. However, although the C5 and C15 compounds do not easily nucleate, our measurements indicate that they can still contribute to the particle growth at free tropospheric conditions. For the experiments reported here, most likely isoprene oxidation products enhance the growth of particles larger than 15 nm. Additionally, we report on the nucleation rates measured at 1.7 nm (J1.7 nm) and compared with previous studies, we found lower J1.7 nm values, very likely due to the higher α-pinene and ozone mixing ratios used in the present study.