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Published May 20, 2016 | Supplemental Material + Published
Journal Article Open

The effect of acid–base clustering and ions on the growth of atmospheric nano-particles


The growth of freshly formed aerosol particles can be the bottleneck in their survival to cloud condensation nuclei. It is therefore crucial to understand how particles grow in the atmosphere. Insufficient experimental data has impeded a profound understanding of nano-particle growth under atmospheric conditions. Here we study nano-particle growth in the CLOUD (Cosmics Leaving OUtdoors Droplets) chamber, starting from the formation of molecular clusters. We present measured growth rates at sub-3 nm sizes with different atmospherically relevant concentrations of sulphuric acid, water, ammonia and dimethylamine. We find that atmospheric ions and small acid-base clusters, which are not generally accounted for in the measurement of sulphuric acid vapour, can participate in the growth process, leading to enhanced growth rates. The availability of compounds capable of stabilizing sulphuric acid clusters governs the magnitude of these effects and thus the exact growth mechanism. We bring these observations into a coherent framework and discuss their significance in the atmosphere.

Additional Information

© 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. Received 21 Sep 2015; Accepted 12 Apr 2016; Published 20 May 2016. We thank CERN for supporting CLOUD with important technical and financial resources, and for providing a particle beam from the CERN Proton Synchrotron. We thank the tofTools team for data analysis toolbox. This research has received funding from the EC Seventh Framework Programme (Marie Curie Initial Training Networks 'CLOUD-ITN' grant no. 215072, and 'CLOUD-TRAIN', grant no. 316662; ERC grants 'ATMOGAIN' grant no. 278277, 'MOCAPAF' grant no. 257360, 'NANODYNAMITE' grant no. 616075 and 'ATMNUCLE' grant no. 227463; FP7-ENV-2010-265148, PEGASOS), the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement no. 656994, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (project nos 01LK0902A and 01LK1222A), the Swiss National Science Foundation (project nos 206621_125025 and 206620_130527), the Academy of Finland (project nos 251427, 1133872 and 138951), the Academy of Finland Center of Excellence program (project nos 1118615 and 272041), the Austrian Science Fund (FWF; project nos P19546 and L593), the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (project no. CERN/FP/116387/2010), the Swedish Research Council (grant 2011–5120), the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (grant N08-02-91006-CERN) and the US National Science Foundation (grants AGS1136479 and CHE1012293), US Department of Energy (DE-SC00014469) and the Väisälä foundation. Author Contributions: K.L., V.-M.K. and M.K. wrote the manuscript. K.L., S.Scho., A.F., T.N. and F.R. analysed the growth rates. L.R., S.Scho., N.S., T.J and M.Sip. analysed the mass spectrometer data. J.Ko., A.K., S.E., O.K.-M. and T.O. performed the modelling. K.L., M.K., N.D., H.V., K.C., I.R., D.W., U.B. and J.C. did data interpretation and editing of the manuscript. All other authors participated in either the development and preparations of the CLOUD facility and the instruments, and/or collecting and analysing the data, and they commented on the manuscript. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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August 20, 2023
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