Surface Partitioning in Organic-Inorganic Mixtures Contributes to the Size-Dependence of the Phase-State of Atmospheric Nanoparticles

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Atmospheric particulate matter is one of the main factors governing the Earth's radiative budget, but its exact effects on the global climate are still uncertain. Knowledge on the molecular-scale surface phenomena as well as interactions between atmospheric organic and inorganic compounds is necessary for understanding the role of airborne nanoparticles in the Earth system. In this work, surface composition of aqueous model systems containing succinic acid and sodium chloride or ammonium sulfate is determined using a novel approach combining X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, surface tension measurements and thermodynamic modeling. It is shown that succinic acid molecules are accumulated in the surface, yielding a 10-fold surface concentration as compared with the bulk for saturated succinic acid solutions. Inorganic salts further enhance this enrichment due to competition for hydration in the bulk. The surface compositions for various mixtures are parametrized to yield generalizable results and used to explain changes in surface tension. The enhanced surface partitioning implies an increased maximum solubility of organic compounds in atmospheric nanoparticles. The results can explain observations of size-dependent phase-state of atmospheric nanoparticles, suggesting that these particles can display drastically different behavior than predicted by bulk properties only.


  • Josephina Werner
  • Maryam Dalirian
  • Marie Madeleine Walz
  • Victor Ekholm
  • Ulla Wideqvist
  • Samuel J. Lowe
  • Gunnar Öhrwall
  • Ingmar Persson
  • Ilona Riipinen
  • Olle Björneholm
Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • Stockholms universitet
  • Uppsala universitet

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Meteorologi och atmosfärforskning
Sidor (från-till)7434-7442
Antal sidor9
TidskriftEnvironmental Science and Technology
Utgåva nummer14
StatusPublished - 2016 jul 19
Peer review utfördJa