1Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institut, Villigen, Switzerland
2Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
3Department of Chemical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
*now at: AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow Hosted at the US EPA, Washington, DC, USA
Abstract. The evolution of secondary organic aerosols (SOA) during (photo-)chemical aging processes was investigated in a smog chamber. SOA from 10–40 ppb α-pinene was formed during ozonolysis followed by aging with OH radicals. The particles' volatility and hygroscopicity (expressed as volume fraction remaining (VFR) and hygroscopicity parameter κ) were measured with a volatility and hygroscopicity tandem differential mobility analyzer (V/H-TDMA). These measurements were used as sensitive physical parameters to reveal the possible mechanisms responsible for the chemical changes in the SOA composition during aging: A change of VFR and/or κ during processing of atmospheric aerosol may occur either by addition of SOA mass (by condensation) or by an exchange of molecules in the SOA by other molecules with different properties. The former process increases the SOA mass by definition, while the latter keeps the SOA mass roughly constant and may occur either by heterogeneous reactions on the surface of the SOA particles, by homogeneous reactions like oligomerization or by an evaporation – gas-phase oxidation – recondensation cycle. Thus, when there is a substantial change in the aerosol mass with time, the condensation mechanism may be assumed to be dominant, while, when the mass stays roughly constant the exchange mechanism is likely to be dominant, a process termed ripening here. Depending on the phase of the experiment, an O3 mediated condensation, O3 mediated ripening, OH mediated condensation, and OH mediated ripening could be distinguished.
During the O3 mediated condensation the particles volatility decreased (increasing VFR) while the hygroscopicity increased. Thereafter, in the course of O3 mediated ripening volatility continued to decrease, but hygroscopicity stayed roughly constant. After exposing the SOA to OH radicals an OH mediated condensation started with a significant increase of SOA mass. Concurrently, hygroscopicity and volatility increased. This phase was then followed by an OH mediated ripening with a decrease of volatility.