American Chemical Society
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Significantly Accelerated Photosensitized Formation of Atmospheric Sulfate at the Air–Water Interface of Microdroplets

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-03-01, 16:38 authored by Wei Wang, Yangyang Liu, Tao Wang, Qiuyue Ge, Kejian Li, Juan Liu, Wenbo You, Longqian Wang, Lifang Xie, Hongbo Fu, Jianmin Chen, Liwu Zhang
The multiphase oxidation of sulfur dioxide (SO2) to form sulfate is a complex and important process in the atmosphere. While the conventional photosensitized reaction mainly explored in the bulk medium is reported to be one of the drivers to trigger atmospheric sulfate production, how this scheme functionalizes at the air–water interface (AWI) of aerosol remains an open question. Herein, employing an advanced size-controllable microdroplet-printing device, surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) analysis, nanosecond transient adsorption spectrometer, and molecular level theoretical calculations, we revealed the previously overlooked interfacial role in photosensitized oxidation of SO2 in humic-like substance (HULIS) aerosol, where a 3–4 orders of magnitude increase in sulfate formation rate was speculated in cloud and aerosol relevant-sized particles relative to the conventional bulk-phase medium. The rapid formation of a battery of reactive oxygen species (ROS) comes from the accelerated electron transfer process at the AWI, where the excited triplet state of HULIS (3HULIS*) of the incomplete solvent cage can readily capture electrons from HSO3 in a way that is more efficient than that in the bulk medium fully blocked by water molecules. This phenomenon could be explained by the significantly reduced desolvation energy barrier required for reagents residing in the AWI region with an open solvent shell.