Chemical composition of atmospheric nanoparticles formed from nucleation in Tecamac, Mexico: Evidence for an important role for organic species in nanoparticle growth

Jim N. Smith, M. J. Dunn, T. M. VanReken, K. Iida, Mark R Stolzenburg, Peter H McMurry, L. G. Huey

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Abstract

We report Thermal Desorption Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometer (TDCIMS) measurements of the composition of ambient 10-33 nm diameter particles formed from nucleation on 16 March 2006 in Tecamac, Mexico during the Megacity Initiative: Local and Global Research Observations (MILAGRO) field study. On this day, nucleated particles contained far more organics than sulfates: average ion molar ratios with measurement uncertainties for nitrate, organics and sulfur species were 6±2%, 84±5%, and 10±1%, respectively. The measured organic species include nitrogen-containing organic compounds, organic acids, and hydroxy organic acids. Independent calculations show that sulfuric acid condensation could have accounted for only 10±2% of the growth that was observed on this day, which is consistent with the TDCIMS measurements of composition. It follows that organic compounds play a dominant role the high growth rates that were observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL04808
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume35
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 28 2008

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