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New approaches for the chemical and physical characterization of aerosols using a single particle mass spectrometry based technique


Aerosols affect the lives of people every day. They can decrease visibility, alter cloud formation and cloud lifetimes, change the energy balance of the earth and are implicated in causing numerous health problems. Measuring the physical and chemical properties of aerosols is essential to understand and mitigate any negative impacts that aerosols might have on climate and human health. Aerosol time-of-flight mass spectrometry (ATOFMS) is a technique that measures the size and chemical composition of individual particles in real time. The goal of this dissertation is to develop new and useful approaches for measuring the physical and/or chemical properties of particles using ATOFMS. This has been accomplished using laboratory experiments, ambient field measurements and sometimes comparisons between them. A comparison of mass spectra generated from petrochemical particles was made to light duty vehicle (LDV) and heavy duty diesel vehicle (HDDV) particle mass spectra. This comparison has given us new insight into how to differentiate between particles from these two sources. A method for coating elemental carbon (EC) particles with organic carbon (OC) was used to generate a calibration curve for quantifying the fraction of organic carbon and elemental carbon on particles using ATOFMS. This work demonstrates that it is possible to obtain quantitative chemical information with regards to EC and OC using ATOFMS. The relationship between electrical mobility diameter and aerodynamic diameter is used to develop a tandem differential mobility analyzer- ATOFMS technique to measure the effective density, size and chemical composition of particles. The method is applied in the field and gives new insight into the physical/chemical properties of particles. The size resolved chemical composition of aerosols was measured in the Indian Ocean during the monsoonal transition period. This field work shows that a significant fraction of aerosol transported from India was from biomass burning and appeared to be internally mixed with sulfate which suggests it was cloud processed during transport. Lastly, noble metal nanoparticles are explored as potential matrices for visible wavelength single particle matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (VIS-MALDI). This work demonstrates that noble metal nanoparticle matrices can be used for VIS-MALDI analysis

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