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J Phys Chem A. 2007 Sep 20;111(37):9054-61. Epub 2007 Aug 24.

Characterizing multiphase organic/inorganic/aqueous aerosol droplets.

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School of Chemistry, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1TS, U.K.


The partitioning of an immiscible and volatile organic component between the gas and aqueous condensed phases of an aerosol is investigated using optical tweezers. Specifically, the phase segregation of immiscible decane and aqueous components within a single liquid aerosol droplet is characterized by brightfield microscopy and by spontaneous and stimulated Raman scattering. The internally mixed phases are observed to adopt equilibrium geometries that are consistent with predictions based on surface energies and interfacial tensions and the volume fractions of the two immiscible phases. In the limit of low organic volume fraction, the stimulated Raman scattering signature is consistent with the formation of a thin film or lens of the organic component on the surface of an aqueous droplet. By comparing the nonlinear spectroscopic signature with Mie scattering predictions for a core-shell structure, the thickness of the organic layer can be estimated with nanometer accuracy. Time-dependent measurements allow the evolving partitioning of the volatile organic component between the condensed and vapor phases to be investigated.

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