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  1. Many mass spectrometry methods using various ionization sources provide bulk composition of airborne particles, but little is known about the surface species that play a major role in determining their physicochemical properties that impact air quality, climate, and health. The present work shows that the composition of surface layers of atmospherically relevant submicron organic particles can be probed without the use of an external ionization source. Solid dicarboxylic acid particles are used as models, with glutaric acid being the most efficient at generating ions. Coating with small diacids or products from α-pinene ozonolysis demonstrates that ions are ejected from the surface, providing surface molecular characterization of organic particles on the fly. This unique approach provides a path forward for elucidating the role of the surface in determining chemical and physical properties of particles, including heterogeneous reactions, particle growth, water uptake, and interactions with biological systems. 
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  2. Neonicotinoids (NNs) are commonly found throughout the environment on surfaces such as seeds, soil, vegetation, and blowing dust particles. However, there is a paucity of data on the kinetics and oxidation products formed on contact with the atmosphere which limits understanding of their potentially far-reaching impacts. In this study, in situ attenuated total reflectance (ATR) FTIR spectroscopy was used to investigate the OH oxidation of thin films of three solid NNs, imidacloprid (IMD), dinotefuran (DNF) and clothianidin (CLD) at 295 ± 3 K. The experimentally measured reaction probabilities based on initial rates of NN loss are (1.6 ± 0.8) × 10 −2 for IMD, (1.5 ± 0.6) × 10 −2 for DNF and (0.9 ± 0.2) × 10 −2 for CLD (±1 σ ), suggesting initial NN lifetimes with respect to OH of 10–17 days. The kinetics were interpreted using a multiphase kinetics model, KM-SUB, which showed that the OH uptake and reaction occurred primarily in the surface layer. Products identified by mass spectrometry included carbonyl-, alcohol- and olefin-containing species formed via hydrogen abstraction from aliphatic C–H groups. Additionally, carbonyl-containing desnitro and urea derivative products were observed from secondary reactions of the initially formed photodegradation products. Reaction with OH will contribute to NN loss both during the day as well as at night when there are non-photolytic sources of this radical. Thus, OH reactions with both the parent neonicotinoid and its photodegradation products should be considered in assessing their environmental impacts. 
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  3. While new particle formation events have been observed worldwide, our fundamental understanding of the precursors remains uncertain. It has been previously shown that small alkylamines and ammonia (NH 3 ) are key actors in sub-3 nm particle formation through reactions with acids such as sulfuric acid (H 2 SO 4 ) and methanesulfonic acid (CH 3 S(O)(O)OH, MSA), and that water also plays a role. Because NH 3 and amines co-exist in air, we carried out combined experimental and theoretical studies examining the influence of the addition of NH 3 on particle formation from the reactions of MSA with methylamine (MA) and trimethylamine (TMA). Experiments were performed in a 1 m flow reactor at 1 atm and 296 K. Measurements using an ultrafine condensation particle counter (CPC) and a scanning mobility particle sizer (SMPS) show that new particle formation was systematically enhanced upon simultaneous addition of NH 3 to the MSA + amine binary system, with the magnitude depending on the amine investigated. For the MSA + TMA reaction system, the addition of NH 3 at ppb concentrations produced a much greater effect ( i.e. order of magnitude more particles) than the addition of ∼12 000 ppm water (corresponding to ∼45–50% relative humidity). The effect of NH 3 on the MSA + MA system, which is already very efficient in forming particles on its own, was present but modest. Calculations of energies, partial charges and structures of small cluster models of the multi-component particles likewise suggest synergistic effects due to NH 3 in the presence of MSA and amine. The local minimum structures and the interactions involved suggest mechanisms for this effect. 
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  4. Both ambient and laboratory-generated particles can have a surface composition different from the bulk, but there are currently few analytical techniques available to probe these differences. Easy ambient sonic-spray ionization mass spectrometry (EASI-MS) was applied to solid, laboratory-generated particles with core–shell morphologies formed from a variety of dicarboxylic acids. The soft ionization facilitated parent peak detection for the two compounds, from which the depth probed could be determined from the relative signal intensities. Two different configurations of a custom-made nebulizer are reported that yield different probe depths. In the “orthogonal mode,” with the nebulizer ∼10 centimeters away from the particle stream and at a 90° angle to the MS inlet, evaporation of the nebulizer droplets forms ions before interaction with the particles. The probe depth for orthogonal mode EASI-MS is shown to be 2–4 nm in these particle systems. In the “droplet mode”, the nebulizer and particle streams are in close proximity to each other and the MS inlet so that the particles interact with charged liquid droplets. This configuration resulted in full dissolution of the particles and gives particle composition similar to that from collection on filters and extraction of the particles (bulk). These studies establish that EASI-MS is a promising technique for probing the chemical structures of inhomogeneous airborne organic particles. 
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  5. Real-time in situ mass spectrometry analysis of airborne particles is important in a number of applications, including exposure studies in ambient air, industrial settings, and assessing impacts on visibility and climate. However, obtaining molecular and 3D structural information is more challenging, especially for heterogeneous solid or semi-solid particles. We report a study of extractive electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (EESI-MS) for the analysis of solid particles with an organic coating. The goal is to elucidate how much of the overall particle content is sampled, and the sensitivity of this technique to the surface layers. It is shown that for NaNO3 particles coated with glutaric acid (GA), very little of the solid NaNO3 core is sampled compared to the GA coating, while for GA particles coated with malonic acid (MA), significant signals from both the MA coating and the GA core are observed. However, conventional ESI-MS of the same samples collected on a Teflon filter and extracted detects much more core material compared to EESI-MS in both cases. These results show that for the experimental conditions used here, EESI-MS does not sample the entire particle, but instead is more sensitive to surface layers. Separate experiments on single component particles of NaNO3, glutaric acid or citric acid show that there must be a kinetics limitation to dissolution that is important in determining EESI-MS sensitivity. We propose a new mechanism of EESI solvent droplet interaction with solid particles that is consistent with the experimental observations. In conjunction with previous EESI-MS studies of organic particles, these results suggest EESI does not necessarily sample the entire particle when solid, and that not only solubility but also surface energies and the kinetics of dissolution play an important role. 
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  6. Understanding impacts of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) in air requires a molecular-level understanding of particle growth via interactions between gases and particle surfaces. The interactions of three gaseous organic nitrates with selected organic substrates were measured at 296 K using attenuated total reflection Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. The organic substrates included a long chain alkane (triacontane, TC), a keto-acid (pinonic acid, PA), an amorphous ester oligomer (poly(ethylene adipate) di-hydroxy terminated, PEA), and laboratory-generated SOA from α-pinene ozonolysis. There was no uptake of the organic nitrates on the non-polar TC substrate, but significant uptake occurred on PEA, PA, and α-pinene SOA. Net uptake coefficients ( γ ) at the shortest reaction times accessible in these experiments ranged from 3 × 10 −4 to 9 × 10 −6 and partition coefficients ( K ) from 1 × 10 7 to 9 × 10 4 . Trends in γ did not quantitatively follow trends in K , suggesting that the intermolecular forces involved in gas–surface interactions are not the same as those in the bulk, which is supported by theoretical calculations. Kinetic modeling showed that nitrates diffused throughout the organic films over several minutes, and that the bulk diffusion coefficients evolved as uptake/desorption occurred. A plasticizing effect occurred upon incorporation of the organic nitrates, whereas desorption caused decreases in diffusion coefficients in the upper layers, suggesting a crusting effect. Accurate predictions of particle growth in the atmosphere will require knowledge of uptake coefficients, which are likely to be several orders of magnitude less than one, and of the intermolecular interactions of gases with particle surfaces as well as with the particle bulk. 
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