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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Ionization of N2O4in contact with water: Mechanism, time scales and atmospheric implications

  • Author(s): Miller, Y
  • Finlayson-Pitts, BJ
  • Gerber, RB
  • et al.

Published Web Location Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License

Ionization of N2O4in and on thin water films on surfaces is believed to be a key step in the hydrolysis of NO2which generates HONO, a significant precursor to the OH free radical in the lower atmosphere. Molecular dynamics simulations using "on the fly" high-level MP2 potentials are carried out for ONONO2·(H2O)nclusters, n ≤ 8, used to mimic the surface reaction, in order to investigate the ionization process and determine its time-scale and mechanism around room temperature. The results are (i) the isolated molecule does not convert to the NO+NO3-ion pair, even for long times; (ii) for ONONO2· (H2O)nwith n = 1 and 2, ionization takes place in several picoseconds; (iii) for n ≥ 3, ionization is essentially immediate, implying that the neutral species does not have sufficient lifetime to be considered a significant intermediate in the reaction; and (iv) even at ice temperatures, T ≤ 250 K, ionization for n ≥ 3 is immediate. The implications for hydrolysis of oxides of nitrogen on surfaces in the atmosphere are discussed. © 2009 American Chemical Society.

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