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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Quantitative and qualitative sensing techniques for biogenic volatile organic compounds and their oxidation products

  • Author(s): Kim, Saewung
  • Guenther, Alex
  • Apel, Eric
  • et al.

The physiological production mechanisms of some of the organics in plants, commonly known as biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs), have been known for more than a century. Some BVOCs are emitted to the atmosphere and play a significant role in tropospheric photochemistry especially in ozone and secondary organic aerosol (SOA) productions as a result of interplays between BVOCs and atmospheric radicals such as hydroxyl radical (OH),ozone (O3) and NOX (NO + NO2). These findings have been drawn from comprehensive analysis of numerous field and laboratory studies that have characterized the ambient distribution of BVOCs and their oxidation products, and reaction kinetics between BVOCs and atmospheric oxidants. These investigations are limited by the capacity for identifying and quantifying these compounds. This review highlights the major analytical techniques that have been used to observe BVOCs and their oxidation products such as gas chromatography, mass spectrometry with hard and soft ionization methods, and optical techniques from laser induced fluorescence (LIF) to remote sensing. In addition, we discuss how new analytical techniques can advance our understanding of BVOC photochemical processes. The principles, advantages, and drawbacks of the analytical techniques are discussed along with specific examples of how the techniques were applied in field and laboratory measurements. Since a number of thorough review papers for each specific analytical technique are available, readers are referred to these publications rather than providing thorough descriptions of each technique. Therefore, the aim of this review is for readers to grasp the advantages and disadvantages of various sensing techniques for BVOCs and their oxidation products and to provide guidance for choosing the optimal technique for a specific research task.

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