This content will become publicly available on October 3, 2023
- Publication Date:
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- Environmental Science: Atmospheres
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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In the atmosphere, water in all phases is ubiquitous and plays important roles in catalyzing atmospheric chemical reactions, participating in cluster formation and affecting the composition of aerosol particles. Direct measurements of water-containing clusters are limited because water is likely to evaporate before detection, and therefore, theoretical tools are needed to study hydration in the atmosphere. We have studied thermodynamics and population dynamics of the hydration of different atmospherically relevant base monomers as well as sulfuric acid–base pairs. The hydration ability of a base seems to follow in the order of gas-phase base strength whereas hydration ability of acid–base pairs, and thus clusters, is related to the number of hydrogen binding sites. Proton transfer reactions at water–air interfaces are important in many environmental and biological systems, but a deeper understanding of their mechanisms remain elusive. By studying thermodynamics of proton transfer reactions in clusters containing up to 20 water molecules and a base molecule, we found that that the ability of a base to accept a proton in a water cluster is related to the aqueous-phase basicity. We also studied the second deprotonation reaction of a sulfuric acid in hydrated acid–base clusters and found that sulfate formation is most favorablemore »
Absorption spectra of benzoic acid in water at different pH and in the presence of salts: insights from the integration of experimental data and theoretical cluster modelsThe absorption spectra of molecular organic chromophores in aqueous media are of considerable importance in environmental chemistry. In this work, the UV-vis spectra of benzoic acid (BA), the simplest aromatic carboxylic acid, in aqueous solutions at varying pH and in the presence of salts are measured experimentally. The solutions of different pH provide insights into the contributions from both the non-dissociated acid molecule and the deprotonated anionic species. The microscopic interpretation of these spectra is then provided by quantum chemical calculations for small cluster models of benzoic species (benzoic acid and benzoate anion) with water molecules. Calculations of the UV-vis absorbance spectra are then carried out for different clusters such as C 6 H 5 COOH·(H 2 O) n and C 6 H 5 COO − ·(H 2 O) n , where n = 0–8. The following main conclusions from these calculations and the comparison to experimental results can be made: (i) the small water cluster yields good quantitative agreement with observed solution experiments; (ii) the main peak position is found to be very similar at different levels of theory and is in excellent agreement with the experimental value, however, a weaker feature about 1 eV to lower energy (redmore »
Transformation of low-volatility gaseous precursors to new particles affects aerosol number concentration, cloud formation and hence the climate. The clustering of acid and base molecules is a major mechanism driving fast nucleation and initial growth of new particles in the atmosphere. However, the acid–base cluster composition, measured using state-of-the-art mass spectrometers, cannot explain the measured high formation rate of new particles. Here we present strong evidence for the existence of base molecules such as amines in the smallest atmospheric sulfuric acid clusters prior to their detection by mass spectrometers. We demonstrate that forming (H2SO4)1(amine)1 is the rate-limiting step in atmospheric H2SO4-amine nucleation and the uptake of (H2SO4)1(amine)1 is a major pathway for the initial growth of H2SO4 clusters. The proposed mechanism is very consistent with measured new particle formation in urban Beijing, in which dimethylamine is the key base for H2SO4 nucleation while other bases such as ammonia may contribute to the growth of larger clusters. Our findings further underline the fact that strong amines, even at low concentrations and when undetected in the smallest clusters, can be crucial to particle formation in the planetary boundary layer.
Abstract. Highly oxygenated organic molecules (HOMs) contributesubstantially to the formation and growth of atmospheric aerosol particles,which affect air quality, human health and Earth's climate. HOMs are formedby rapid, gas-phase autoxidation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) suchas α-pinene, the most abundant monoterpene in the atmosphere. Due totheir abundance and low volatility, HOMs can play an important role innew-particle formation (NPF) and the early growth of atmospheric aerosols,even without any further assistance of other low-volatility compounds suchas sulfuric acid. Both the autoxidation reaction forming HOMs and theirNPF rates are expected to be strongly dependent ontemperature. However, experimental data on both effects are limited.Dedicated experiments were performed at the CLOUD (Cosmics Leaving OUtdoorDroplets) chamber at CERN to address this question. In this study, we showthat a decrease in temperature (from +25 to −50 ∘C) results ina reduced HOM yield and reduced oxidation state of the products, whereas theNPF rates (J1.7 nm) increase substantially.Measurements with two different chemical ionization mass spectrometers(using nitrate and protonated water as reagent ion, respectively) providethe molecular composition of the gaseous oxidation products, and atwo-dimensional volatility basis set (2D VBS) model provides their volatilitydistribution. The HOM yield decreases with temperature from 6.2 % at 25 ∘C to 0.7 % at −50 ∘C. However, there is a strongreductionmore »
Abstract. In atmospheric sulfuric-acid-driven particle formation, bases are able to stabilize the initial molecular clusters and thus enhance particle formation. The enhancing potential of a stabilizing base is affected by different factors, such as the basicity and abundance. Here we use weak (ammonia), medium strong (dimethylamine) and very strong (guanidine) bases as representative atmospheric base compounds, and we systematically investigate their ability to stabilize sulfuric acid clusters. Using quantum chemistry, we study proton transfer as well as intermolecular interactions and symmetry in clusters, of which the former is directly related to the base strength and the latter to the structural effects. Based on the theoretical cluster stabilities and cluster population kinetics modeling, we provide molecular-level mechanisms of cluster growth and show that in electrically neutral particle formation, guanidine can dominate formation events even at relatively low concentrations. However, when ions are involved, charge effects can also stabilize small clusters for weaker bases. In this case the atmospheric abundance of the bases becomes more important, and thus ammonia is likely to play a key role. The theoretical findings are validated by cluster distribution experiments, as well as comparisons to previously reported particle formation rates, showing a good agreement.