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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 11, issue 10 | Copyright
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 11, 5489-5506, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 08 Oct 2018

Research article | 08 Oct 2018

Size-resolved online chemical analysis of nanoaerosol particles: a thermal desorption differential mobility analyzer coupled to a chemical ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometer

Andrea C. Wagner1, Anton Bergen1, Sophia Brilke1,2, Claudia Fuchs1,3, Markus Ernst1, Jesica Hoker1, Martin Heinritzi1, Mario Simon1, Bertram Bühner1, Joachim Curtius1, and Andreas Kürten1 Andrea C. Wagner et al.
  • 1Institute for Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt, 60438, Germany
  • 2Aerosol Physics and Environmental Physics, University of Vienna, Vienna, 1090, Austria
  • 3Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute, Villigen, 5232, Switzerland

Abstract. A new method for size-resolved chemical analysis of nucleation mode aerosol particles (size range from  ∼ 10 to  ∼ 30nm) is presented. The Thermal Desorption Differential Mobility Analyzer (TD-DMA) uses an online, discontinuous principle. The particles are charged, a specific size is selected by differential mobility analysis and they are collected on a filament by electrostatic precipitation. Subsequently, the sampled mass is evaporated in a clean carrier gas and analyzed by a chemical ionization mass spectrometer. Gas-phase measurements are performed with the same mass spectrometer during the sampling of particles. The characterization shows reproducible results, with a particle size resolution of 1.19 and the transmission efficiency for 15nm particles being slightly above 50%. The signal from the evaporation of a test substance can be detected starting from 0.01ng and shows a linear response in the mass spectrometer. Instrument operation in the range of pgm−3 is demonstrated by an example measurement of 15nm particles produced by nucleation from dimethylamine, sulfuric acid and water.

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Short summary
Chemical analysis of sub-30 nm aerosol particles is important for understanding aerosol nucleation and early growth, yet it is still an experimental challenge. In this study, we present a novel device for size resolved chemical analysis of nucleation and Aitken mode particles (from ~10 to ~30 nm) while allowing gas phase measurements with the same detector. Particles are charged, size selected, electrostatically collected and then thermally desorbed in a carrier gas.
Chemical analysis of sub-30 nm aerosol particles is important for understanding aerosol...