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Nature. 2016 May 26;533(7604):521-6. doi: 10.1038/nature17953.

Ion-induced nucleation of pure biogenic particles.

Author information

1
Goethe University Frankfurt, Institute for Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, 60438 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
2
CERN, CH-1211 Geneva, Switzerland.
3
Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland.
4
Helsinki Institute of Physics, University of Helsinki, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland.
5
School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK.
6
Paul Scherrer Institute, Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry, CH-5232 Villigen, Switzerland.
7
Institute for Ion and Applied Physics, University of Innsbruck, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria.
8
Onera-The French Aerospace Lab, F-91123 Palaiseau, France.
9
SIM, University of Lisbon, 1849-016 Lisbon, Portugal.
10
Ionicon Analytik GmbH, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria.
11
Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland.
12
Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA.
13
WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, CH-7260 Davos, Switzerland.
14
University of Eastern Finland, FI-70211 Kuopio, Finland.
15
Finnish Meteorological Institute, FI-00101 Helsinki, Finland.
16
Solar and Cosmic Ray Research Laboratory, Lebedev Physical Institute, 119991 Moscow, Russia.
17
University of Leeds, National Centre for Earth Observation, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK.
18
Department of Applied Environmental Science, University of Stockholm, SE-10961 Stockholm, Sweden.
19
Faculty of Physics, University of Vienna, 1090 Vienna, Austria.
20
Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research, 04318 Leipzig, Germany.
21
University of Beira Interior, 6201-001 Covilhã, Portugal.
22
Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.
23
Aerodyne Research Inc., Billerica, Massachusetts 01821, USA.

Abstract

Atmospheric aerosols and their effect on clouds are thought to be important for anthropogenic radiative forcing of the climate, yet remain poorly understood. Globally, around half of cloud condensation nuclei originate from nucleation of atmospheric vapours. It is thought that sulfuric acid is essential to initiate most particle formation in the atmosphere, and that ions have a relatively minor role. Some laboratory studies, however, have reported organic particle formation without the intentional addition of sulfuric acid, although contamination could not be excluded. Here we present evidence for the formation of aerosol particles from highly oxidized biogenic vapours in the absence of sulfuric acid in a large chamber under atmospheric conditions. The highly oxygenated molecules (HOMs) are produced by ozonolysis of α-pinene. We find that ions from Galactic cosmic rays increase the nucleation rate by one to two orders of magnitude compared with neutral nucleation. Our experimental findings are supported by quantum chemical calculations of the cluster binding energies of representative HOMs. Ion-induced nucleation of pure organic particles constitutes a potentially widespread source of aerosol particles in terrestrial environments with low sulfuric acid pollution.

PMID:
27225125
DOI:
10.1038/nature17953
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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