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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 24, 2025
  2. Abstract Number: 327 Working Group: Aerosol Chemistry Abstract Low-pH aerosols comprise a large fraction of atmospheric fine particulate matter. The effects of pH on secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation are not well understood, in part because of the difficulty of accurately measuring aerosol pH. Of particular interest are the atmospherically-abundant isoprene epoxydiols (IEPOX), which undergo acid-driven reactions to form SOA. Models have assumed no upper limit for IEPOX-SOA formation rates as acidity increases. However, recent work has shown that organosulfate formation from IEPOX slows as the equilibrium of inorganic sulfate (Sulfinorg) shifts from sulfate (SO42-) towards bisulfate (HSO4-), which is a weaker nucleophile. We performed a series of trans-ß-IEPOX uptake experiments with ammonium sulfate seed solutions acidified to between pH 0 and 3, and modelled time-resolved methyltetrol (MT) and methyltetrol sulfate (MTS) formation and Sulfinorg consumption (kMT = 0.018 M-2 s-1, kMTS = 0.28 M-2 s-1). We found an inflection point between pH 1 and 1.4, below which MT formation dominates and above which MTS formation dominates, consistent with a changing balance of protonated and deprotonated Sulfinorg. Modelled MT and MTS formation fit the experimental data well both above and below the inflection point except at pH 1.4, where it significantly underpredicted the data at low initial IEPOX/Sulfinorg ratios. This indicates multi-phase chemical dynamics beyond those represented in our model, leading to very efficient IEPOX-SOA formation at pH 1.4. Further investigation is warranted into the connection of IEPOX-SOA formation with initial IEPOX/Sulfinorg ratio and aerosol pH. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 2, 2024
  3. The ability of an atmospheric aerosol to take up water or to participate in heterogeneous reactions is highly influenced by its phase state – solid, semi-solid, or liquid. These changes in phase state can be predicted by glass transition temperature (Tg), as particles at temperatures below their Tg will show solid properties, while increasing the temperature above their Tg will allow for semi-solid and eventually liquid properties. Historically, measurements of the Tg of bulk materials have been studied in order to model the phase states of aerosols in the atmosphere; however, these methods only permit an estimation of aerosol Tg based on their bulk chemical composition. Determining the Tg of individual particles will allow for more accurate model predictions of aerosol phase state. Herein, we apply a recently developed method utilizing a nano-thermal analysis (nanoTA) module coupled to an atomic force microscope (AFM), to determine the Tg of individual secondary organic aerosol (SOA) particles generated from the reactive uptake of isoprene epoxydiol (IEPOX) onto acidic ammonium sulfate aerosol particles. NanoTA works by using a specialized AFM probe which can be heated while in contact with a particle of interest. As the temperature increases, the probe deflection will first increase due to thermal expansion of the particle followed by a decrease at its melting temperature (Tm). The Tg of the particle can then be determined from Tm using the Boyer–Beaman rule. We compared the Tg of IEPOX-derived SOA particles generated at relative humidity (RH) of 30, 65, and 80%, and found that increasing RH from 30 to 80% led to a decrease in average Tg of 22 K, indicating less viscous particles at higher RH conditions. Our measurements with this technique will allow for more accurate representations of the phase state of aerosols in the atmosphere. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 2, 2024
  4. Abstract Number: 381 Working Group: Instrumentation and Methods Abstract The phase state of atmospheric aerosol particles – solid, semi-solid, or liquid – influences their ability to take up water and participate in heterogeneous chemical reactions. Changes in phase state have been predicted by glass transition temperature (Tg) and viscosity; however, direct measurements of these properties is challenging for sub-micron particles. Historically, bulk measurements have been used, but this does not account for particle-to-particle variation or the impacts of particle size. Melting temperature (Tm) is the most significant predictor of Tg, and the two properties can be related through the Boyer-Beaman rule. Herein, we apply a recently developed method utilizing a nano-thermal analysis (nanoTA) module coupled to an atomic force microscope (AFM), to determine the Tm of individual secondary organic aerosol (SOA) particles generated from the reactive uptake of isoprene-derived epoxydiols (IEPOX) onto acidic ammonium sulfate aerosol particles. NanoTA works by using a specialized AFM probe which can be heated while in contact with a particle of interest. As the temperature increases, the probe deflection will first increase due to thermal expansion of the particle followed by a decrease at its Tm. The direct measurements are compared with model predictions based on molecular composition from hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography coupled to electrospray ionization high-resolution quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (HILIC/ESI-HR-QTOF-MS) analysis. We compared the Tm of the SOA particles formed from IEPOX uptake onto acidic ammonium sulfate particles created at 30, 65, and 80% relative humidity (RH), and found that increasing RH from 30 to 80% led to an overall decrease in average Tm, indicating less viscous particles at higher RH conditions. Our measurements with this technique will allow for more accurate representations of the phase state of aerosols in the atmosphere. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 2, 2024
  5. Abstract Number: 453 Working Group: Aerosol Chemistry Abstract Secondary organic aerosol (SOA) is composed of a significant fraction of low-volatility high-molecular-weight oligomer products. These species can affect particle viscosity, morphology, and mixing timescales, yet they are not very well understood. While strides have been made in elucidating oligomer formation mechanisms, their degradation is less studied. Previous work suggests that the presence of oligomers may suppress particle mass loss during atmospheric aging by slowing the production high-volatility fragments from monomers. Our work investigates the effects of relative humidity (RH) on oligomer formation in SOA and the effects of hydroxyl radical (·OH) exposure on oligomer degradation. To probe these questions, SOA is generated by the reactive uptake of isoprene epoxydiols (IEPOX) onto acidic ammonium sulfate aerosol in a 2-m3 steady-state chamber, followed by exposure to ·OH in an oxidation flow reactor. We investigate SOA formation at 30-80% RH, which is above and below the deliquescence point of ammonium sulfate. We examine the evolution of SOA bulk chemical composition as well as single-particle physicochemical properties over the course of aging using mass spectrometry-, spectroscopy-, and microscopy-based techniques. An optimized matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI-MS) method is used to identify and track the presence of oligomers in SOA over the course of aging. Our research will provide insight about the formation and degradation of oligomers in the atmosphere, which will allow better modeling of their impact on climate. 
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  6. Holme, Thomas (Ed.)
    Reading and understanding scientific literature is an essential skill for any scientist to learn. While students’ scientific literacy can be improved by reading research articles, an article’s technical language and structure can hinder students’ understanding of the scientific material. Furthermore, many students struggle with interpreting graphs and other models of data commonly found in scientific literature. To introduce students to scientific literature and promote improved understanding of data and graphs, we developed a guided-inquiry activity adapted from a research article on snow chemistry and implemented it in a general chemistry laboratory course. Here, we describe how we adapted figures from the primary literature source and developed questions to scaffold the guided-inquiry activity. Results from semi-structured qualitative interviews suggest that students learn about snow chemistry processes and engage in scientific practices, including data analysis and interpretation, through this activity. This activity is applicable in other introductory science courses as educators can adapt most scientific articles into a guided-inquiry activity. 
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  7. Atmospheric aerosols are key contributors to cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) and ice nucleating particle (INP) formation, which can offset positive radiative forcing. Aerosol particles can undergo many cycles of droplet activation and subsequent drying before their removal from the atmosphere through dry or wet deposition. Cloud-aerosol-precipitation interactions are affected by cloud droplet or ice crystal formation, which is related to the physicochemical properties of aerosol particles. Isoprene-derived secondary organic aerosol (iSOA) is an abundant component aerosol and has been previously found in INPs and cloud water residues, and it includes both soluble and insoluble residues in its particle matrix. Currently, most of our understanding of iSOA is derived from studying the soluble residues, but there has been a measurement gap for characterizing the insoluble residues. These measurements are needed as previous research has suggested that insoluble components could be important with respect to CCN and INP formation. Herein, a unique approach is utilized to collect the insoluble residues of SOA in ~3 µm droplets collected from a Spot Sampler from Aerosol Devices, Inc. iSOA is generated by reactive uptake of IEPOX onto acidic seed particles (ammonium sulfate + sulfuric acid) in a humidified atmospheric chamber under dark conditions. Droplets are impacted directly on a substrate or in a liquid medium to study the roles of insoluble residues from both single-particle and bulk perspectives. A suite of microspectroscopy techniques, including Raman and optical photothermal infrared (O-PTIR) spectroscopy, are used to probe the chemical composition of the residues. Atomic force microscopy – photothermal infrared (AFM-PTIR) spectroscopy and Nanoparticle Tracking Analysis (NTA) are used to measure the size distributions of the residues. These insights may help understand the properties of residues from cloud droplet evaporation and subsequent cloud-aerosol-precipitation interactions in the atmosphere. 
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  8. We recently demonstrated that the heterogeneous hydroxyl radical (OH) oxidation is an important aging process for isoprene epoxydiol-derived secondary organic aerosol (IEPOX-SOA) that alters its chemical composition, and thus, aerosol physicochemical properties. Notably, dimeric species in IEPOX-SOA were found to heterogeneously react with OH at a much faster rate than monomers, suggesting that the initial oligomeric content of freshly-generated IEPOX-SOA particles may affect its subsequent atmospheric oxidation. Aerosol acidity could in principle influence this aging process by enhancing the formation of sulfated and non-sulfated oligomers in freshly-generated IEPOX-SOA. Many multifunctional organosulfate (OS) products derived from heterogeneous OH oxidation of sulfur-containing IEPOX-SOA have been observed in cloud water residues and ice nucleating particles and could affect the ability of aged IEPOX-SOA particles to act as cloud condensation nuclei. Hence, this study systematically investigated the effect of aerosol acidity on the kinetics and products resulting from heterogeneous OH oxidation of IEPOX-SOA particles. We reacted gas-phase IEPOX with inorganic sulfate particles of varying pH (0.5 to 2.5) in an indoor smog chamber operated under dark, steady-state conditions to form freshly-generated IEPOX-SOA particles. These particles were aged at a relative humidity of 65% in an oxidation flow reactor (OFR) for 0-21 days of equivalent atmospheric OH exposure. Through molecular-level chemical analyses by hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography method interfaced to electrospray ionization high-resolution quadrupole time- of-flight mass spectrometry (HILIC/ESI-HR-QTOFMS), we observed that highly acidic aerosol has higher oligomer ratio and exhibit much slower mass decay with OH oxidation (pH=0.5, lifetime = 56 days) as compared to less acidic aerosols (pH=2.5, lifetime=17 days). Based on atomic force microscopy (AFM) analysis, aerosol acidity could also affect the morphology and viscosity of IEPOX-SOA during OH oxidation process. 
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  9. Isoprene is one of the most common biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOC) in the atmosphere, produced by many plants. Isoprene undergoes oxidation to form gaseous isoprene epoxydiols (IEPOX) under low-NOx conditions, which can lead to the formation of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) particles. SOA-containing particles affect climate by scattering and absorbing solar radiation or acting as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). High concentrations of SOA are also associated with adverse health impacts in people. While in the atmosphere, IEPOX SOA particles continue to undergo reactions with atmospheric oxidants, including hydroxyl radical (OH). To isolate and probe this process, we studied atmospheric chemical processes in an aerosol chamber to better understand the evolution of heterogeneous OH oxidation of IEPOX-derived SOA particles. Since very little is understood about the structural and spectroscopic properties because of the complexity of their many sources and atmospheric processing, individual particle measurements are necessary to provide better understanding of the composition of IEPOX SOA. We injected particles composed of mixtures of ammonium sulfate and sulfuric acid across a range of acidities(PH = 0.5 – 2.5) and gas-phase IEPOX into the chamber to generate SOA. The SOA particles were then sent to an oxidation flow reactor, and exposed to different OH concentrations representative of aging of a number of days. We kept relative humidity (RH) constant at ~65%, the temperature was ~23 °C, and levels of oxidation were controlled by adjusting lamp intensity. After oxidized SOA was impacted on quartz substrates, we used single-particle Raman microspectroscopy to identify their functional group compositions. From the Raman vibrational spectra of submicron particles (~500-1000 nm aerodynamic diameter), we observed a distinct difference in core-shell morphology and composition: an organic outer layer and an aqueous-inorganic core. The core also has significantly more CH-stretch than the shell. Small changes were also observed with increasing oxidation, which are important to consider when predicting SOA particle evolution in the atmosphere. 
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  10. Isoprene has a strong effect on the oxidative capacity of the troposphere due to its abundance. Under low-NOx conditions, isoprene oxidizes to form isoprene-derived epoxydiols (IEPOX), contributing significantly to secondary organic aerosol (SOA) through heterogeneous reactions. In particular, organosulfates (OSs) can form from acid-driven reactive uptake of IEPOX onto preexisting particles followed by nucleophilic addition of inorganic sulfate, and they are an important component of SOA mass, primarily in submicron particles with long atmospheric lifetimes. Fundamental understanding of SOA and OS evolution in particles, including the formation of new compounds by oxidation as well as corresponding viscosity changes, is limited, particularly across relative humidity (RH) conditions above and below the deliquescence of typical sulfate aerosol particles. In a 2-m3 indoor chamber held at various RH values (30 – 80%), SOA was generated from reactive uptake of gas-phase IEPOX onto acidic ammonium sulfate aerosols (pH = 0.5 – 2.5) and then aged in an oxidation flow reactor (OFR) for 0 – 24 days of equivalent atmospheric ·OH exposure. We investigated the extent of inorganic sulfate conversion to organosulfate, formation of oligomers, single-particle physicochemical properties, such as viscosity and phase state, and oxidation kinetics. Chemical composition of particle-phase species, as well as aerosol morphological changes, are analyzed as a function of RH, oxidant exposure times, and particle acidity to better understand SOA and OS formation and destruction mechanisms in the ambient atmosphere. 
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