The effect of hydrophobic glassy organic material on the cloud condensation nuclei activity of particles with different morphologies

Tandon, Ankit; Rothfuss, Nicholas E.; Petters, Markus D.

Particles composed of organic and inorganic components can assume core-shell morphologies. The kinetic limitation of water uptake due to the presence of a hydrophobic viscous outer shell may increase the critical supersaturation required to activate such particles into cloud droplets. Here we test this hypothesis through laboratory experiments. Results show that the viscosity of polyethylene particles is inline-formula5×106 Pa s at 60 inline-formulaC. Extrapolation of temperature dependent viscosity measurements suggests that the particles are glassy at room temperature. Cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) activity measurements demonstrate that pure polyethylene particles are CCN inactive at diameters less than 741 nm and 2.5 % water supersaturation. Thus, polyethylene is used as proxy for hydrophobic glassy organic material. Ammonium sulfate is used as proxy for hygroscopic CCN active inorganic material. Mixed particles were generated using coagulation of oppositely charged particles; charge-neutral polyethylene–ammonium sulfate dimer particles were then isolated for online observation. Morphology of these dimer particles was varied by heating, such that liquefied polyethylene partially or completely engulfed the ammonium sulfate. Critical supersaturation was measured as a function of dry particle volume, particle morphology, and organic volume fraction. The data show that kinetic limitations do not change the critical supersaturation of 50 nm ammonium sulfate cores coated with polyethylene and polyethylene volume fractions up to 97 %. Based on these results, and a synthesis of literature data, it is suggested that mass transfer limitations by glassy organic shells are unlikely to affect cloud droplet activation near laboratory temperatures.

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Tandon, Ankit / Rothfuss, Nicholas E. / Petters, Markus D.: The effect of hydrophobic glassy organic material on the cloud condensation nuclei activity of particles with different morphologies. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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