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Influence of Functional Groups on Organic Aerosol Cloud Condensation Nucleus Activity

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journal contribution
posted on 02.09.2014, 00:00 by Sarah R. Suda, Markus D. Petters, Geoffrey K. Yeh, Christen Strollo, Aiko Matsunaga, Annelise Faulhaber, Paul J. Ziemann, Anthony J. Prenni, Christian M. Carrico, Ryan C. Sullivan, Sonia M. Kreidenweis
Organic aerosols in the atmosphere are composed of a wide variety of species, reflecting the multitude of sources and growth processes of these particles. Especially challenging is predicting how these particles act as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). Previous studies have characterized the CCN efficiency for organic compounds in terms of a hygroscopicity parameter, κ. Here we extend these studies by systematically testing the influence of the number and location of molecular functional groups on the hygroscopicity of organic aerosols. Organic compounds synthesized via gas-phase and liquid-phase reactions were characterized by high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with scanning flow CCN analysis and thermal desorption particle beam mass spectrometry. These experiments quantified changes in κ with the addition of one or more functional groups to otherwise similar molecules. The increase in κ per group decreased in the following order: hydroxyl ≫ carboxyl > hydroperoxide > nitrate ≫ methylene (where nitrate and methylene produced negative effects, and hydroperoxide and nitrate groups produced the smallest absolute effects). Our results contribute to a mechanistic understanding of chemical aging and will help guide input and parametrization choices in models relying on simplified treatments such as the atomic oxygen:carbon ratio to predict the evolution of organic aerosol hygroscopicity.