skip to main content


Title: Particle formation and surface processes on atmospheric aerosols: A review of applied quantum chemical calculations
Abstract

Aerosols significantly influence atmospheric processes such as cloud nucleation, heterogeneous chemistry, and heavy‐metal transport in the troposphere. The chemical and physical complexity of atmospheric aerosols results in large uncertainties in their climate and health effects. In this article, we review recent advances in scientific understanding of aerosol processes achieved by the application of quantum chemical calculations. In particular, we emphasize recent work in two areas: new particle formation and heterogeneous processes. Details in quantum chemical methods are provided, elaborating on computational models for prenucleation, secondary organic aerosol formation, and aerosol interface phenomena. Modeling of relative humidity effects, aerosol surfaces, and chemical kinetics of reaction pathways is discussed. Because of their relevance, quantum chemical calculations and field and laboratory experiments are compared. In addition to describing the atmospheric relevance of the computational models, this article also presents future challenges in quantum chemical calculations applied to aerosols.

 
more » « less
Award ID(s):
1903871 1828508 1801971 2018427
NSF-PAR ID:
10456788
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
International Journal of Quantum Chemistry
Volume:
120
Issue:
20
ISSN:
0020-7608
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Due to the adverse effect of atmospheric aerosols on public health and their ability to affect climate, extensive research has been undertaken in recent decades to understand their sources and sinks, as well as to study their physical and chemical properties. Atmospheric aerosols are important players in the Earth’s radiative budget, affecting incoming and outgoing solar radiation through absorption and scattering by direct and indirect means. While the cooling properties of pure inorganic aerosols are relatively well understood, the impact of organic aerosols on the radiative budget is unclear. Additionally, organic aerosols are transformed through chemical reactions during atmospheric transport. The resulting complex mixture of organic aerosol has variable physical and chemical properties that contribute further to the uncertainty of these species modifying the radiative budget. Correlations between oxidative processing and increased absorptivity, hygroscopicity, and cloud condensation nuclei activity have been observed, but the mechanisms behind these phenomena have remained unexplored. Herein, we review environmentally relevant heterogeneous mechanisms occurring on interfaces that contribute to the processing of aerosols. Recent laboratory studies exploring processes at the aerosol–air interface are highlighted as capable of generating the complexity observed in the environment. Furthermore, a variety of laboratory methods developed specifically to study these processes under environmentally relevant conditions are introduced. Remarkably, the heterogeneous mechanisms presented might neither be feasible in the gas phase nor in the bulk particle phase of aerosols at the fast rates enabled on interfaces. In conclusion, these surface mechanisms are important to better understand how organic aerosols are transformed in the atmosphere affecting the environment. 
    more » « less
  2. Reduced-nitrogen compounds (RNC), such as ammonia and amines, play important roles in atmospheric aerosol nucleation, secondary organic aerosol (SOA), and cloud formation processes. Fast measurements of ammonia and amines are made with a chemical ionization mass spectrometer (CIMS). Clusters containing RNC are measured with an atmospheric pressure interface time of flight mass spectrometer (APi-TOF) or chemical ionization APi-TOF (CI-APi-TOF). Aerosol-phase amines can be detected with a single particle mass spectrometer at real-time, or with offline chemical analytical methods using filter samples. However, the application of these instruments in real atmospheric measurements is still very limited. This perspective article highlights recent measurements of RNC in the atmosphere and discusses their implications in new particle formation (NPF). 
    more » « less
  3. The pH of aerosol particles remains challenging to measure because of their small size, complex composition, and high acidity. Acidity in aqueous aerosol particles, which are found abundantly in the atmosphere, impacts many chemical processes from reaction rates to cloud formation. Only one technique – pH paper – currently exists for directly determining the pH of aerosol particles, and this is restricted to measuring average acidity for entire particle populations. Other methods for evaluating aerosol pH include filter samples, particle-into-liquid sampling, Raman spectroscopy, organic dyes, and thermodynamic models, but these either operate in a higher pH range or are unable to assess certain chemical species or complexity. Here, we present a new method for determining acidity of individual particles and particle phases using carbon quantum dots as a novel in situ fluorophore. Carbon quantum dots are easily synthesized, shelf stable, and sensitive to pH in the highly acidic regime from pH 0 to pH 3 relevant to ambient aerosol particles. To establish the method, a calibration curve was formed from the ratiometric fluorescence intensity of aerosolized standard solutions with a correlation coefficient ( R 2 ) of 0.99. Additionally, the pH of aerosol particles containing a complex organic mixture (COM) representative of environmental aerosols was also determined, proving the efficacy of using carbon quantum dots as pH-sensitive fluorophores for complex systems. The ability to directly measure aerosol particle and phase acidity in the correct pH range can help parametrize atmospheric models and improve projections for other aerosol properties and their influence on health and climate. 
    more » « less
  4. null (Ed.)
    Marine polymer gels play a critical role in regulating ocean basin scale biogeochemical dynamics. This brief review introduces the crucial role of marine gels as a source of aerosol particles and cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) in cloud formation processes, emphasizing Arctic marine microgels. We review the gel’s composition and relation to aerosols, their emergent properties, and physico-chemical processes that explain their change in size spectra, specifically in relation to aerosols and CCN. Understanding organic aerosols and CCN in this context provides clear benefits to quantifying the role of marine nanogel/microgel in microphysical processes leading to cloud formation. This review emphasizes the DOC-marine gel/aerosolized gel-cloud link, critical to developing accurate climate models. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Atmospheric aerosols are complex mixtures of different chemical species, and individual particles exist in many different shapes and morphologies. Together, these characteristics contribute to the aerosol mixing state. This review provides an overview of measurement techniques to probe aerosol mixing state, discusses how aerosol mixing state is represented in atmospheric models at different scales, and synthesizes our knowledge of aerosol mixing state's impact on climate‐relevant properties, such as cloud condensation and ice nucleating particle concentrations, and aerosol optical properties. We present these findings within a framework that defines aerosol mixing state along with appropriate mixing state metrics to quantify it. Future research directions are identified, with a focus on the need for integrating mixing state measurements and modeling.

     
    more » « less