Novel Measurements of Aerosol Particle Interfaces Using Biphasic Microfluidics

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 3:25 PM
Andrew R Metcalf and Cari S Dutcher, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN, United States
Secondary organic aerosol (SOA) particles are nearly ubiquitous in the atmosphere and yet there remains large uncertainties in their formation processes and ambient properties. These particles are complex microenvironments, which can contain multiple interfaces due to internal aqueous–organic phase partitioning and to the external liquid–vapor surface. These aerosol interfaces can profoundly affect the fate of condensable organic compounds emitted into the atmosphere by altering the way in which organic vapors interact with the ambient aerosol. Aerosol interfaces affect particle internal structure, species uptake, equilibrium partitioning, activation to cloud condensation or ice nuclei, and optical properties. For example, organic thin films can shield the core of the aerosol from the ambient environment, which may disrupt equilibrium partitioning and mass transfer. To improve our ability to accurately predict the fate of SOA in the atmosphere, we must improve our knowledge of aerosol interfaces and their interactions with the ambient environment. Few technologies exist to accurately probe aerosol interfaces at atmospherically-relevant conditions.

In this talk, a novel method using biphasic microscale flows will be introduced for generating, trapping, and perturbing complex interfaces at atmospherically relevant conditions. These microfluidic experiments utilize high-speed imaging to monitor interfacial phenomena at the microscale and are performed with phase contrast and fluorescence microscopy on a temperature-controlled inverted microscope stage. From these experiments, interfacial thermodynamic properties such as surface tension, rheological properties such as interfacial moduli, and kinetic properties such as mass transfer coefficients can be measured or inferred. Chemical compositions of the liquid phases studied here span a range of viscosities and include electrolyte and water soluble organic acid species often observed in the atmosphere, such as mixtures containing ammonium salts (e.g., (NH4)2SO4, NH4NO3) and dicarboxylic acids (e.g., malonic, glutaric, and maleic acid) as well as important mimic compounds such as sucrose – water systems.