American Chemical Society
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Structural Change of Aerosol Particle Aggregates with Exposure to Elevated Relative Humidity

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journal contribution
posted on 2015-10-20, 00:00 authored by James F. Montgomery, Steven N. Rogak, Sheldon I. Green, Yuan You, Allan K. Bertram
Structural changes of aggregates composed of inorganic salts exposed to relative humidity (RH) between 0 and 80% after formation at selected RH between 0 and 60% were investigated using a tandem differential mobility analyzer (TDMA) and fluorescence microscopy. The TDMA was used to measure a shift in peak mobility diameter for 100–700 nm aggregates of hygroscopic aerosol particles composed of NaCl, Na2SO4, (NH4)2SO4, and nonhygroscopic Al2O3 as the RH was increased. Aggregates of hygroscopic particles were found to shrink when exposed to RH greater than that during the aggregation process. The degree of aggregate restructuring is greater for larger aggregates and greater increases in RH. Growth factors (GF) calculated from mobility diameter measurements as low as 0.77 were seen for NaCl before deliquescence. The GF subsequently increased to 1.23 at 80% RH, indicating growth after deliquescence. Exposure to RH lower than that experienced during aggregation did not result in structural changes. Fluorescent microscopy confirmed that aggregates formed on wire surfaces undergo an irreversible change in structure when exposed to elevated RH. Analysis of 2D movement of aggregates shows a displacement of 5–13% compared to projected length of initial aggregate from a wire surface. Surface tension due to water adsorption within the aggregate structure is a potential cause of the structural changes.