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A case study of single hygroscopicity parameter and its link to the functional groups and phase transition for urban aerosols in Taipei City

Hung, Hui-Ming, Hsu, Chia-Hung, Lin, Wei-Ting, Chen, Yu-Quan
Atmospheric environment 2016 v.132 pp. 240-248
absorbance, absorption, aerosols, ammonium sulfate, atmospheric chemistry, case studies, hygroscopicity, nitric acid, particle size, phase transition, reflectance, sodium, sodium nitrate, solutes
The hygroscopicity, functional groups and phase transitions of urban aerosol particles in Taipei City were studied using a cloud condensation nuclei counter (CCNc) with a scanning mobility particle sizer (SMPS) and an attenuated total reflectance with infrared (ATR-IR) detection technique. With the assumption of larger particles being activated first, the derived single hygroscopicity parameter (κ) exhibited an increasing trend with particle size, i.e., from 0.022 ± 0.01 at 87 ± 10 nm to 0.13 ± 0.03 at 240 ± 20 nm. The collected size-selected particles were characterized using ATR-IR for the functional groups of alkyl, carbonyl, ammonium, sulfate and nitrate, which showed various size dependence patterns, linked to different formation mechanisms. The hygroscopic response based on the ratio (xW_solute) for sample film of absorption by the enhanced water-stretching peak to that by the selected solute showed a better consistency with pure ammonium sulfate for sub-micron size particles. Based on the derived ammonium sulfate volume fraction from IR analysis, the κ received from CCNc measurements was concluded mainly contributed by ammonium sulfate for sub-micrometer particles. The increasing trend of sodium nitrate absorbance at aerosol diameter ≥1 μm was due to a reaction of nitric acid with sea salt particles. The micrometer sized particles were apparent not only in a significantly higher xW_solute than pure sodium nitrate but also had a deliquescence RH of 69 ± 1%, similar to that of sodium nitrate-sodium chloride mixtures. Overall, the organic species in this study exhibited a low hygroscopicity with less than 0.036 of contribution for the overall κ, and the major hygroscopic material of urban aerosols consisted primarily of ammonium sulfate in the sub-micrometer particles and sodium nitrate with sea salt in the coarse particles.