Measurement of gas-phase OH radical oxidation and film thickness of organic films at the air–water interface using material extracted from urban, remote and wood smoke aerosol

Rosalie Shepherd, Martin King, Adrian R. Rennie, Andrew Ward, M.M. Frey, Neil Brough, Joshua Eveson, sabino Del Vento, Adam Milsom, Christian Pfrang, Maxmilian Skoda, Rebecca Welbourn

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The presence of an organic film on a cloud droplet or aqueous aerosol particle has the potential to alter the chemical, optical and physical properties of the droplet or particle. In the study presented, water insoluble organic materials extracted from urban, remote (Antarctica) and wood burning atmospheric aerosol were found to have stable, compressible, films at the air–water interface that were typically $6–18 A ̊ thick. These films are reactive towards gas-phase OH radicals and decay exponentially, with bimolecular rate constants for reaction with gas-phase OH radicals of typically 0.08–1.5 1010 cm3 molecule1 s1. These bimolecular rate constants equate to initial OH radical uptake coefficients estimated to be $0.6–1 except woodsmoke ($0.05). The film thickness and the neutron scattering length density of the extracted atmosphere aerosol material (from urban, remote and wood burning) were measured by neutron reflection as they were exposed to OH radicals. For the first time neutron reflection has been demonstrated as an excellent technique for studying the thin films formed at air–water interfaces from materials extracted from atmospheric aerosol samples. Additionally, the kinetics of gas-phase OH radicals with a proxy compound, the lipid 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DSPC) was studied displaying significantly different behaviour, thus demonstrating it is not a good proxy for atmospheric materials that may form films at the air–water interface. The atmospheric lifetimes, with respect to OH radical oxidation, of the insoluble organic materials extracted from atmospheric aerosol at the air–water interface were a few hours. Relative to a possible physical atmospheric lifetime of 4 days, the oxidation of these films is important and needs inclusion in atmospheric models. The optical properties of these films were previously reported [Shepherd et al., Atmos. Chem. Phys., 2018, 18, 5235–5252] and there is a significant change in top of the atmosphere albedo for these thin films on core–shell atmospheric aerosol using the film thickness data and confirmation of stable film formation at the air–water interface presented here.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science: Atmospheres
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2022

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