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Published January 2010 | Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Thermochromism of Model Organic Aerosol Matter


Laboratory experiments show that the optical absorptivity of model organic matter is not an intrinsic property, but a strong function of relative humidity, temperature, and insolation. Suites of representative polyfunctional C_(x)H_(y)O_(z) oligomers in water develop intense visible absorptions upon addition of inert electrolytes. The resulting mixtures reach mass absorption cross sections σ(532 nm) ~ 0.1 m^(2)/gC in a few hours, absorb up to 9 times more solar radiation than the starting material, can be half-bleached by noon sunlight in ~ 1 h, and can be repeatedly recycled without carbon loss. Visible absorptions red-shift and evolve increasingly faster in subsequent thermal aging cycles. Thermochromism and its strong direct dependences on ionic strength and temperature are ascribed to the dehydration of >CH−C(OH)< groups into >C═C< unsaturations by a polar E1 mechanism, and bleaching to photoinduced retrohydration. These transformations are deemed to underlie the daily cycles of aerosol absorption observed in the field, and may introduce a key feedback in the earth's radiative balance.

Additional Information

© 2010 American Chemical Society. Received Date: October 26, 2009; accepted Date: December 2, 2009; Published on Web Date: December 09, 2009. This project was financially supported by the National Science Foundation (ATM-0714329). A.G.R. acknowledges financial support from the Swiss National Science Foundation (PBL2-110274).

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