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Exploring matrix effects on photochemistry of organic aerosols


This work explores the effect of the environment on the rate of photolysis of 2,4-dinitrophenol (24-DNP), an important environmental toxin. In stark contrast to the slow photolysis of 24-DNP in an aqueous solution, the photolysis rate is increased by more than an order of magnitude for 24-DNP dissolved in 1-octanol or embedded in secondary organic material (SOM) produced by ozonolysis of α-pinene. Lowering the temperature decreased the photolysis rate of 24-DNP in SOM much more significantly than that of 24-DNP in octanol, with effective activation energies of 53 kJ/mol and 12 kJ/mol, respectively. We discuss the possibility that the increasing viscosity of the SOM matrix constrains the molecular motion, thereby suppressing the hydrogen atom transfer reaction to the photo-excited 24-DNP. This is, to our knowledge, the first report of a significant effect of the matrix, and possibly viscosity, on the rate of an atmospheric photochemical reaction within SOM. It suggests that rates of photochemical processes in organic aerosols will depend on both relative humidity and temperature and thus altitude. The results further suggest that photochemistry in SOM may play a key role in transformations of atmospheric organics. For example, 24-DNP and other nitro-aromatic compounds should readily photodegrade in organic particulate matter, which has important consequences for predicting their environmental fates and impacts.

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