skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Thursday, May 23 until 2:00 AM ET on Friday, May 24 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Mentler, Bernhard"

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 23, 2025
  2. Abstract The interaction between nitrogen monoxide (NO) and organic peroxy radicals (RO 2 ) greatly impacts the formation of highly oxygenated organic molecules (HOM), the key precursors of secondary organic aerosols. It has been thought that HOM production can be significantly suppressed by NO even at low concentrations. Here, we perform dedicated experiments focusing on HOM formation from monoterpenes at low NO concentrations (0 – 82 pptv). We demonstrate that such low NO can enhance HOM production by modulating the RO 2 loss and favoring the formation of alkoxy radicals that can continue to autoxidize through isomerization. These insights suggest that HOM yields from typical boreal forest emissions can vary between 2.5%-6.5%, and HOM formation will not be completely inhibited even at high NO concentrations. Our findings challenge the notion that NO monotonically reduces HOM yields by extending the knowledge of RO 2 -NO interactions to the low-NO regime. This represents a major advance towards an accurate assessment of HOM budgets, especially in low-NO environments, which prevails in the pre-industrial atmosphere, pristine areas, and the upper boundary layer. 
    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  3. The main nucleating vapor in the atmosphere is thought to be sulfuric acid (H2SO4), stabilized by ammonia (NH3). However, in marine and polar regions, NH3is generally low, and H2SO4is frequently found together with iodine oxoacids [HIOx, i.e., iodic acid (HIO3) and iodous acid (HIO2)]. In experiments performed with the CERN CLOUD (Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets) chamber, we investigated the interplay of H2SO4and HIOxduring atmospheric particle nucleation. We found that HIOxgreatly enhances H2SO4(-NH3) nucleation through two different interactions. First, HIO3strongly binds with H2SO4in charged clusters so they drive particle nucleation synergistically. Second, HIO2substitutes for NH3, forming strongly bound H2SO4-HIO2acid-base pairs in molecular clusters. Global observations imply that HIOxis enhancing H2SO4(-NH3) nucleation rates 10- to 10,000-fold in marine and polar regions.

    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 15, 2024
  4. Biogenic vapors form new particles in the atmosphere, affecting global climate. The contributions of monoterpenes and isoprene to new particle formation (NPF) have been extensively studied. However, sesquiterpenes have received little attention despite a potentially important role due to their high molecular weight. Via chamber experiments performed under atmospheric conditions, we report biogenic NPF resulting from the oxidation of pure mixtures of β-caryophyllene, α-pinene, and isoprene, which produces oxygenated compounds over a wide range of volatilities. We find that a class of vapors termed ultralow-volatility organic compounds (ULVOCs) are highly efficient nucleators and quantitatively determine NPF efficiency. When compared with a mixture of isoprene and monoterpene alone, adding only 2% sesquiterpene increases the ULVOC yield and doubles the formation rate. Thus, sesquiterpene emissions need to be included in assessments of global aerosol concentrations in pristine climates where biogenic NPF is expected to be a major source of cloud condensation nuclei.

    more » « less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 8, 2024
  5. Abstract. Aerosol particles have an important role in Earth'sradiation balance and climate, both directly and indirectly throughaerosol–cloud interactions. Most aerosol particles in the atmosphere areweakly charged, affecting both their collision rates with ions and neutralmolecules, as well as the rates by which they are scavenged by other aerosolparticles and cloud droplets. The rate coefficients between ions and aerosolparticles are important since they determine the growth rates and lifetimesof ions and charged aerosol particles, and so they may influence cloudmicrophysics, dynamics, and aerosol processing. However, despite theirimportance, very few experimental measurements exist of charged aerosolcollision rates under atmospheric conditions, where galactic cosmic rays inthe lower troposphere give rise to ion pair concentrations of around 1000 cm−3. Here we present measurements in the CERN CLOUD chamber of therate coefficients between ions and small (<10 nm) aerosol particlescontaining up to 9 elementary charges, e. We find the rate coefficient of asingly charged ion with an oppositely charged particle increases from 2.0(0.4–4.4) × 10−6 cm3 s−1 to 30.6 (24.9–45.1) × 10−6 cm3 s−1 for particles with charges of 1 to9 e, respectively, where the parentheses indicate the ±1σuncertainty interval. Our measurements are compatible with theoreticalpredictions and show excellent agreement with the model ofGatti and Kortshagen (2008). 
    more » « less
  6. Abstract. Currently, the complete chemical characterization of nanoparticles(< 100 nm) represents an analytical challenge, since these particlesare abundant in number but have negligible mass. Several methods forparticle-phase characterization have been recently developed to betterdetect and infer more accurately the sources and fates of sub-100 nmparticles, but a detailed comparison of different approaches is missing.Here we report on the chemical composition of secondary organic aerosol(SOA) nanoparticles from experimental studies of α-pinene ozonolysisat −50, −30, and −10 ∘C and intercompare the results measured by differenttechniques. The experiments were performed at the Cosmics Leaving OUtdoorDroplets (CLOUD) chamber at the European Organization for Nuclear Research(CERN). The chemical composition was measured simultaneously by fourdifferent techniques: (1) thermal desorption–differential mobility analyzer(TD–DMA) coupled to a NO3- chemical ionization–atmospheric-pressure-interface–time-of-flight (CI–APi–TOF) massspectrometer, (2) filter inlet for gases and aerosols (FIGAERO) coupled to anI− high-resolution time-of-flight chemical ionization mass spectrometer(HRToF-CIMS), (3) extractive electrospray Na+ ionizationtime-of-flight mass spectrometer (EESI-TOF), and (4) offline analysis offilters (FILTER) using ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography (UHPLC)and heated electrospray ionization (HESI) coupled to an Orbitraphigh-resolution mass spectrometer (HRMS). Intercomparison was performed bycontrasting the observed chemical composition as a function of oxidationstate and carbon number, by estimating the volatility and comparing thefraction of volatility classes, and by comparing the thermal desorptionbehavior (for the thermal desorption techniques: TD–DMA and FIGAERO) andperforming positive matrix factorization (PMF) analysis for the thermograms.We found that the methods generally agree on the most important compoundsthat are found in the nanoparticles. However, they do see different parts ofthe organic spectrum. We suggest potential explanations for thesedifferences: thermal decomposition, aging, sampling artifacts, etc. Weapplied PMF analysis and found insights of thermal decomposition in theTD–DMA and the FIGAERO. 
    more » « less
  7. Abstract Iodine is a reactive trace element in atmospheric chemistry that destroys ozone and nucleates particles. Iodine emissions have tripled since 1950 and are projected to keep increasing with rising O 3 surface concentrations. Although iodic acid (HIO 3 ) is widespread and forms particles more efficiently than sulfuric acid, its gas-phase formation mechanism remains unresolved. Here, in CLOUD atmospheric simulation chamber experiments that generate iodine radicals at atmospherically relevant rates, we show that iodooxy hypoiodite, IOIO, is efficiently converted into HIO 3 via reactions (R1) IOIO + O 3  → IOIO 4 and (R2) IOIO 4  + H 2 O → HIO 3  + HOI +  (1) O 2 . The laboratory-derived reaction rate coefficients are corroborated by theory and shown to explain field observations of daytime HIO 3 in the remote lower free troposphere. The mechanism provides a missing link between iodine sources and particle formation. Because particulate iodate is readily reduced, recycling iodine back into the gas phase, our results suggest a catalytic role of iodine in aerosol formation. 
    more » « less
  8. Intense new particle formation events are regularly observed under highly polluted conditions, despite the high loss rates of nucleated clusters. Higher than expected cluster survival probability implies either ineffective scavenging by pre-existing particles or missing growth mechanisms. Here we present experiments performed in the CLOUD chamber at CERN showing particle formation from a mixture of anthropogenic vapours, under condensation sinks typical of haze conditions, up to 0.1 s −1 . We find that new particle formation rates substantially decrease at higher concentrations of pre-existing particles, demonstrating experimentally for the first time that molecular clusters are efficiently scavenged by larger sized particles. Additionally, we demonstrate that in the presence of supersaturated gas-phase nitric acid (HNO 3 ) and ammonia (NH 3 ), freshly nucleated particles can grow extremely rapidly, maintaining a high particle number concentration, even in the presence of a high condensation sink. Such high growth rates may explain the high survival probability of freshly formed particles under haze conditions. We identify under what typical urban conditions HNO 3 and NH 3 can be expected to contribute to particle survival during haze. 
    more » « less
  9. Aerosol particles negatively affect human health while also having climatic relevance due to, for example, their ability to act as cloud condensation nuclei. Ultrafine particles (diameter D p < 100 nm) typically comprise the largest fraction of the total number concentration, however, their chemical characterization is difficult because of their low mass. Using an extractive electrospray time-of-flight mass spectrometer (EESI-TOF), we characterize the molecular composition of freshly nucleated particles from naphthalene and β-caryophyllene oxidation products at the CLOUD chamber at CERN. We perform a detailed intercomparison of the organic aerosol chemical composition measured by the EESI-TOF and an iodide adduct chemical ionization mass spectrometer equipped with a filter inlet for gases and aerosols (FIGAERO-I-CIMS). We also use an aerosol growth model based on the condensation of organic vapors to show that the chemical composition measured by the EESI-TOF is consistent with the expected condensed oxidation products. This agreement could be further improved by constraining the EESI-TOF compound-specific sensitivity or considering condensed-phase processes. Our results show that the EESI-TOF can obtain the chemical composition of particles as small as 20 nm in diameter with mass loadings as low as hundreds of ng m −3 in real time. This was until now difficult to achieve, as other online instruments are often limited by size cutoffs, ionization/thermal fragmentation and/or semi-continuous sampling. Using real-time simultaneous gas- and particle-phase data, we discuss the condensation of naphthalene oxidation products on a molecular level. 
    more » « less
  10. Abstract New particle formation in the upper free troposphere is a major global source of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) 1–4 . However, the precursor vapours that drive the process are not well understood. With experiments performed under upper tropospheric conditions in the CERN CLOUD chamber, we show that nitric acid, sulfuric acid and ammonia form particles synergistically, at rates that are orders of magnitude faster than those from any two of the three components. The importance of this mechanism depends on the availability of ammonia, which was previously thought to be efficiently scavenged by cloud droplets during convection. However, surprisingly high concentrations of ammonia and ammonium nitrate have recently been observed in the upper troposphere over the Asian monsoon region 5,6 . Once particles have formed, co-condensation of ammonia and abundant nitric acid alone is sufficient to drive rapid growth to CCN sizes with only trace sulfate. Moreover, our measurements show that these CCN are also highly efficient ice nucleating particles—comparable to desert dust. Our model simulations confirm that ammonia is efficiently convected aloft during the Asian monsoon, driving rapid, multi-acid HNO 3 –H 2 SO 4 –NH 3 nucleation in the upper troposphere and producing ice nucleating particles that spread across the mid-latitude Northern Hemisphere. 
    more » « less