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Publication . Other literature type . Article . 2022

Particle-phase processing of α-pinene NO3 secondary organic aerosol in the dark

David M. Bell; Cheng Wu; Amelie Bertrand; Emelie Graham; Janne Schoonbaert; Stamatios Giannoukos; Urs Baltensperger; +4 Authors
Open Access
Published: 13 Oct 2022

The NO3 radical represents a significant nighttime oxidant which is present downstream of polluted environments. Existing studies have investigated the formation of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) from NO3 radicals, focusing on the yields, general composition, and hydrolysis of organonitrates; however, there is limited knowledge about how the composition of NO3-derived SOA evolves as a result of particle-phase reactions. Here, SOA was formed from the reaction of α-pinene with NO3 radicals generated from N2O5, and the resulting SOA was aged in the dark. The initial composition of NO3-derived α-pinene SOA was slightly dependent upon the concentration of N2O5 injected (excess of NO3 or excess of α-pinene) but was largely dominated by dimer dinitrates (C20H32N2O8−13). Oxidation reactions (e.g., C20H32N2O8→ C20H32N2O9→ C20H32N2O10) accounted for 60 %–70 % of the particle-phase reactions observed. Fragmentation reactions and dimer degradation pathways made up the remainder of the particle-phase processes occurring. The exact oxidant is not known, although suggestions are offered (e.g., N2O5, organic peroxides, or peroxynitrates). Hydrolysis of –ONO2 functional groups was not an important loss term during dark aging under the relative humidity conditions of our experiments (58 %–62 %), and changes in the bulk organonitrate composition were likely driven by evaporation of highly nitrogenated molecules. Overall, 25 %–30 % of the particle-phase composition changes as a function of particle-phase reactions during dark aging, representing an important atmospheric aging pathway.


Atmospheric Science