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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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Atmos. Meas. Tech., 10, 1139-1154, 2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
21 Mar 2017
Collection efficiency of α-pinene secondary organic aerosol particles explored via light-scattering single-particle aerosol mass spectrometry
Ellis Shipley Robinson1,2, Timothy B. Onasch3, Douglas Worsnop3, and Neil M. Donahue1,2 1Carnegie Mellon University, Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
2Department of Chemical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
3Aerodyne Research, Inc., Billerica, MA, USA
Abstract. We investigated the collection efficiency and effective ionization efficiency for secondary organic aerosol (SOA) particles made from α-pinene + O3 using the single-particle capabilities of the aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS). The mean count-based collection efficiency (CEp) for SOA across these experiments is 0.30 (±0.04 SD), ranging from 0.25 to 0.40. The mean mass-based collection efficiency (CEm) is 0.49 (±0.07 SD). This sub-unit collection efficiency and delayed vaporization is attributable to particle bounce in the vaporization region. Using the coupled optical and chemical detection of the light-scattering single-particle (LSSP) module of the AMS, we provide clear evidence that delayed vaporization is somewhat of a misnomer for these particles: SOA particles measured as a part of the AMS mass distribution do not vaporize at a slow rate; rather, they flash-vaporize, albeit often not on the initial impact with the vaporizer but instead upon a subsequent impact with a hot surface in the vaporization region. We also find that the effective ionization efficiency (defined as ions per particle, IPP) decreases with delayed arrival time. CEp is not a function of particle size (for the mobility diameter range investigated, 170–460 nm), but we did see a decrease in CEp with thermodenuder temperature, implying that oxidation state and/or volatility can affect CEp for SOA. By measuring the mean ions per particle produced for monodisperse particles as a function of signal delay time, we can separately determine CEp and CEm and thus more accurately measure the relative ionization efficiency (compared to ammonium nitrate) of different particle types.

Citation: Robinson, E. S., Onasch, T. B., Worsnop, D., and Donahue, N. M.: Collection efficiency of α-pinene secondary organic aerosol particles explored via light-scattering single-particle aerosol mass spectrometry, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 10, 1139-1154,, 2017.
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