Collision dynamics and uptake of water on alcohol-covered ice
Molecular scattering experiments are used to investigate water interactions with methanol and n-butanol covered ice between 155 K and 200 K. The inelastically scattered and desorbed products of an incident molecular beam are measured and analyzed to illuminate molecular scale processes. The residence time and uptake coefficients of water impinging on alcohol-covered ice are calculated. The surfactant molecules are observed to affect water transport to and from the ice surface in a manner that is related to the number of carbon atoms they contain. Butanol films on ice are observed to reduce water uptake by 20%, whereas methanol monolayers pose no significant barrier to water transport. Water colliding with methanol covered ice rapidly permeates the alcohol layer, but on butanol water molecules have mean surface lifetimes of ≲ 0.6 ms, enabling some molecules to thermally desorb before reaching the water ice underlying the butanol. These observations are put into the context of cloud and atmospheric scale processes, where such surfactant layers may affect a range of aerosol processes, and thus have implications for cloud evolution, the global water cycle, and long term climate.