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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Organic Nitrate Contribution to New Particle Formation and Growth in Secondary Organic Aerosols from alpha-Pinene Ozonolysis

  • Author(s): Berkemeier, T
  • Ammann, M
  • Mentel, TF
  • Poeschl, U
  • Shiraiwa, M
  • et al.

The chemical kinetics of organic nitrate production during new particle formation and growth of secondary organic aerosols (SOA) were investigated using the short-lived radioactive tracer (13)N in flow-reactor studies of α-pinene oxidation with ozone. Direct and quantitative measurements of the nitrogen content indicate that organic nitrates accounted for ∼40% of SOA mass during initial particle formation, decreasing to ∼15% upon particle growth to the accumulation-mode size range (>100 nm). Experiments with OH scavengers and kinetic model results suggest that organic peroxy radicals formed by α-pinene reacting with secondary OH from ozonolysis are key intermediates in the organic nitrate formation process. The direct reaction of α-pinene with NO3 was found to be less important for particle-phase organic nitrate formation. The nitrogen content of SOA particles decreased slightly upon increase of relative humidity up to 80%. The experiments show a tight correlation between organic nitrate content and SOA particle-number concentrations, implying that the condensing organic nitrates are among the extremely low volatility organic compounds (ELVOC) that may play an important role in the nucleation and growth of atmospheric nanoparticles.

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