Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 11, 4843-4879, 2011
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Measurements of the timescales for the mass transfer of water in glassy aerosol at low relative humidity and ambient temperature
H.-J. Tong1,2, J. P. Reid2, D. L. Bones2, B. P. Luo3, and U. K. Krieger3
1Institute for Chemical Physics, Beijing Institute of Technology, Beijing 100081, China
2School of Chemistry, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1TS, UK
3Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland

Abstract. The influence of glassy states and highly viscous solution phases on the timescale of aerosol particle equilibration with water vapour is examined. In particular, the kinetics of mass transfer of water between the condensed and gas phases has been studied for sucrose solution droplets under conditions above and below the glass transition relative humidity (RH). At RHs above the glass transition, sucrose droplets are shown to equilibrate on a timescale comparable to the change in environmental conditions. Below the glass transition, the timescale for mass transfer is shown to be extremely slow, with particles remaining in a state of disequilibrium even after timescales of more than 10000 s. A phenomenological approach for quantifying the time response of particle size is used to illustrate the influence of the glassy aerosol state on the kinetics of mass transfer of water: the time is estimated for the droplet to reach the halfway point from an initial state towards a disequilibrium state at which the rate of size change decreases below 1 nm every 10000 s. This half-time increases above 1000 s once the particle can be assumed to have formed a glass. The measurements are shown to be consistent with kinetic simulations of the slow diffusion of water within the particle bulk. Similar behaviour is observed for binary aqueous raffinose solution droplets consistent with the influence of a glass transition on mass transfer. Mixed component droplets of sucrose/sodium chloride/water also show slow equilibration at low RH, illustrating the importance of understanding the role of the bulk solution viscosity on the rate of mass transfer with the gas phase, even under conditions that may not lead to the formation of a glass.

Citation: Tong, H.-J., Reid, J. P., Bones, D. L., Luo, B. P., and Krieger, U. K.: Measurements of the timescales for the mass transfer of water in glassy aerosol at low relative humidity and ambient temperature, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 11, 4843-4879, doi:10.5194/acpd-11-4843-2011, 2011.
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