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Published August 10, 2006 | Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Chemical Composition of Secondary Organic Aerosol Formed from the Photooxidation of Isoprene


Recent work in our laboratory has shown that the photooxidation of isoprene (2-methyl-1,3-butadiene, C5H8) leads to the formation of secondary organic aerosol (SOA). In the current study, the chemical composition of SOA from the photooxidation of isoprene over the full range of NOₓ conditions is investigated through a series of controlled laboratory chamber experiments. SOA composition is studied using a wide range of experimental techniques:  electrospray ionization−mass spectrometry, matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization−mass spectrometry, high-resolution mass spectrometry, online aerosol mass spectrometry, gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, and an iodometric-spectroscopic method. Oligomerization was observed to be an important SOA formation pathway in all cases; however, the nature of the oligomers depends strongly on the NOₓ level, with acidic products formed under high-NOₓ conditions only. We present, to our knowledge, the first evidence of particle-phase esterification reactions in SOA, where the further oxidation of the isoprene oxidation product methacrolein under high-NOₓ conditions produces polyesters involving 2-methylglyceric acid as a key monomeric unit. These oligomers comprise ∼22−34% of the high-NOₓ SOA mass. Under low-NOₓ conditions, organic peroxides contribute significantly to the low-NO_x SOA mass (∼61% when SOA forms by nucleation and ∼25−30% in the presence of seed particles). The contribution of organic peroxides in the SOA decreases with time, indicating photochemical aging. Hemiacetal dimers are found to form from C₅ alkene triols and 2-methyltetrols under low-NOₓ conditions; these compounds are also found in aerosol collected from the Amazonian rainforest, demonstrating the atmospheric relevance of these low-NOₓ chamber experiments.

Additional Information

© 2006 American Chemical Society. Received: March 20, 2006; In Final Form: June 15, 2006. Research at Caltech was funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to Achieve Results (STAR) Program grant no. RD-83107501-0, managed by EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD), National Center for Environmental Research (NCER), and by the U.S. Department of Energy, Biological, and Environmental Research Program DE-FG02-05ER63983; this work has not been subjected to the EPA's required peer and policy review and therefore does not necessarily reflect the views of the Agency and no official endorsement should be inferred. Jason Surratt was supported in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Graduate Fellowship Program. Research at the Universities of Antwerp and Ghent was supported by the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office through the BIOSOL project (contract SD/AT/02A) and a visiting postdoctoral fellowship to Rafal Szmigielski, and by the Research Foundation − Flanders (FWO). We would like to thank John Greaves at the University of California, Irvine for the accurate mass measurements on the ESI-TOF instrument. We would like to also thank Paul Ziemann at the University of California, Riverside for his useful communications regarding peroxide measurements in SOA.

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