Oxygenated organic molecules produced by low-NO x photooxidation of aromatic compounds: contributions to secondary organic aerosol and steric hindrance

Cheng, Xi; Li, Yong Jie; Zheng, Yan; Liao, Keren; Koenig, Theodore K.; Ge, Yanli; Zhu, Tong; Ye, Chunxiang; Qiu, Xinghua; Chen, Qi

Oxygenated organic molecules (OOMs) produced by the oxidation of aromatic compounds are key components of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) in urban environments. The steric effects of substitutions and rings and the role of key reaction pathways in altering the OOM distributions remain unclear because of the lack of systematic multi-precursor study over a wide range of OH exposure. In this study, we conducted flow-tube experiments and used the nitrate adduct time-of-flight chemical ionization mass spectrometer (inline-formula M3inlinescrollmathml chem normal NO normal 3 - 25pt16ptsvg-formulamathimga186e28964d6ae507e65dbc91f8b1f71 acp-24-2099-2024-ie00001.svg25pt16ptacp-24-2099-2024-ie00001.png -TOF-CIMS) to measure the OOMs produced by the photooxidation of six key aromatic precursors under low-inline-formulaNOx conditions. For single aromatic precursors, the detected OOM peak clusters show an oxygen atom difference of one or two, indicating the involvement of multi-step auto-oxidation and alkoxy radical pathways. Multi-generation OH oxidation is needed to explain the diverse hydrogen numbers in the observed formulae. In particular, for double-ring precursors at higher OH exposure, multi-generation OH oxidation may have significantly enriched the dimer formulae. The results suggest that methyl substitutions in precursor lead to less fragmented OOM products, while the double-ring structure corresponds to less efficient formation of closed-shell monomeric and dimeric products, both highlighting significant steric effects of precursor molecular structure on the OOM formation. Naphthalene-derived OOMs however have lower volatilities and greater SOA contributions than the other-type of OOMs, which may be more important in initial particle growth. Overall, the OOMs identified by the inline-formula M5inlinescrollmathml chem normal NO normal 3 - 25pt16ptsvg-formulamathimg91b2e19ca239409a7665981c17575147 acp-24-2099-2024-ie00002.svg25pt16ptacp-24-2099-2024-ie00002.png -TOF-CIMS may have contributed up to 30.0 % of the measured SOA mass, suggesting significant mass contributions of less oxygenated, undetected semi-volatile products. Our results highlight the key roles of progressive OH oxidation, methyl substitution and ring structure in the OOM formation from aromatic precursors, which need to be considered in future model developments to improve the model performance for organic aerosol.

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Cheng, Xi / Li, Yong Jie / Zheng, Yan / et al: Oxygenated organic molecules produced by low-NOx photooxidation of aromatic compounds: contributions to secondary organic aerosol and steric hindrance. 2024. Copernicus Publications.

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