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J Phys Chem A. 2010 Feb 4;114(4):1806-15. doi: 10.1021/jp9095985.

Measurements of the equilibrium size of supersaturated aqueous sodium chloride droplets at low relative humidity using aerosol optical tweezers and an electrodynamic balance.

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School of Chemistry, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1TS, UK.


An approach for examining the hygroscopicity of single aerosol particles over a broad range in relative humidity (RH) using aerosol optical tweezers is presented and compared with measurements made using an electrodynamic balance. In particular, benchmark measurements on aqueous sodium chloride aerosol are presented over the RH range 45-75% (293 K), a RH range that had not previously been explored with aerosol optical tweezers. Measurements of the variation in equilibrium wet droplet size with RH are made using cavity-enhanced Raman scattering, with an accuracy of 1 nm in the determination of the wet particle radius. The full range of optical tweezers experimental measurements (including previous dual trapping comparative studies approaching a saturation relative humidity of 100%) are compared with determinations using other experimental techniques and with a range of model treatments. An assessment of the models and all experimental data for estimating the equilibrium size of a sodium chloride droplet suggests that the size can be predicted with an accuracy of better than 0.1% over the RH range 48-100%. Discrepancies between different measurements lead to an increase in uncertainty above 1% below an RH of 48% as efflorescence is approached. The optical tweezers' measurements of equilibrium size consistently agree with model predictions to within an error of 1% (<50 nm for the size range explored here) and mostly with an error of less than +/-0.1%. These data demonstrate the highly accurate nature of measurements of thermodynamic equilibrium size by aerosol optical tweezers and suggest that this approach may be used to investigate the competition between thermodynamic and kinetic factors in governing aerosol particle size over the full RH range.

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