An instrument for quantifying heterogeneous ice nucleation in multiwell plates using infrared emissions to detect freezing

Harrison, Alexander D.; Whale, Thomas F.; Rutledge, Rupert; Lamb, Stephen; Tarn, Mark D.; Porter, Grace C. E.; Adams, Michael P.; McQuaid, James B.; Morris, George J.; Murray, Benjamin J.

Low concentrations of ice-nucleating particles (INPs) are thought to be important for the properties of mixed-phase clouds, but their detection is challenging. Hence, there is a need for instruments where INP concentrations of less than 0.01 Linline-formula−1 can be routinely and efficiently determined. The use of larger volumes of suspension in drop assays increases the sensitivity of an experiment to rarer INPs or rarer active sites due to the increase in aerosol or surface area of particulates per droplet. Here we describe and characterise the InfraRed-Nucleation by Immersed Particles Instrument (IR-NIPI), a new immersion freezing assay that makes use of IR emissions to determine the freezing temperature of individual 50 inline-formulaµL droplets each contained in a well of a 96-well plate. Using an IR camera allows the temperature of individual aliquots to be monitored. Freezing temperatures are determined by detecting the sharp rise in well temperature associated with the release of heat caused by freezing. In this paper we first present the calibration of the IR temperature measurement, which makes use of the fact that following ice nucleation aliquots of water warm to the ice–liquid equilibrium temperature (i.e. 0 inline-formulaC when water activity is inline-formula∼1), which provides a point of calibration for each individual well in each experiment. We then tested the temperature calibration using inline-formula∼100inline-formulaµm chips of K-feldspar, by immersing these chips in 1 inline-formulaµL droplets on an established cold stage (inline-formulaµL-NIPI) as well as in 50 inline-formulaµL droplets on IR-NIPI; the results were consistent with one another, indicating no bias in the reported freezing temperature. In addition we present measurements of the efficiency of the mineral dust NX-illite and a sample of atmospheric aerosol collected on a filter in the city of Leeds. NX-illite results are consistent with literature data, and the atmospheric INP concentrations were in good agreement with the results from the inline-formulaµL-NIPI instrument. This demonstrates the utility of this approach, which offers a relatively high throughput of sample analysis and access to low INP concentrations.

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Harrison, Alexander D. / Whale, Thomas F. / Rutledge, Rupert / et al: An instrument for quantifying heterogeneous ice nucleation in multiwell plates using infrared emissions to detect freezing. 2018. Copernicus Publications.

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