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Title: Significant contributions of trimethylamine to sulfuric acid nucleation in polluted environments

As one of the least understood aerosol processes, nucleation can be a dominant source of atmospheric aerosols. Sulfuric acid (SA)-amine binary nucleation with dimethylamine (DMA) has been recognized as a governing mechanism in the polluted continental boundary layer. Here we demonstrate the importance of trimethylamine (TMA) for nucleation in the complex atmosphere and propose a molecular-level SA-DMA-TMA ternary nucleation mechanism as an improvement upon the conventional binary mechanism. Using the proposed mechanism, we could connect the gaseous amines to the SA-amine cluster signals measured in the atmosphere of urban Beijing. Results show that TMA can accelerate the SA-DMA-based new particle formation in Beijing by 50–100%. Considering the global abundance of TMA and DMA, our findings imply comparable importance of TMA and DMA to nucleation in the polluted continental boundary layer, with probably higher contributions from TMA in polluted rural environments and future urban environments with controlled DMA emissions.

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Publisher / Repository:
Nature Publishing Group
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Journal Name:
npj Climate and Atmospheric Science
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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