Chemical composition of secondary organic aerosol particles formed from mixtures of anthropogenic and biogenic precursors

Yunqi Shao, Aristeidis Voliotis, Mao Du, Yu Wang, Kelly Pereira, Jacqueline Hamilton, M. Rami Alfarra, Gordon Mcfiggans

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A series of experiments was designed and conducted in the Manchester Aerosol Chamber (MAC) to study the photo-oxidation of single and mixed biogenic (isoprene and α-pinene) and anthropogenic (o-cresol) precursors in the presence of NOx and ammonium sulfate seed particles. Several online techniques (HR-ToF-AMS, semi-continuous GC-MS, NOx and O3 analyser) were coupled to the MAC to monitor the gas and particle mass concentrations. Secondary organic aerosol (SOA) particles were collected onto a quartz-fibre filter at the end of each experiment and analysed using liquid chromatography–ultrahigh-resolution mass spectrometry (LC-Orbitrap MS). The SOA particle chemical composition in single and mixed precursor systems was investigated using non-targeted accurate mass analysis of measurements in both negative and positive ionization modes, significantly reducing data complexity and analysis time, thereby providing a more complete assessment of the chemical composition. This non-targeted analysis is not widely used in environmental science and has never been previously used in atmospheric simulation chamber studies. Products from α-pinene were found to dominate the binary mixed α-pinene–isoprene system in terms of signal contributed and the number of particle components detected. Isoprene photo-oxidation was found to generate negligible SOA particle mass under the investigated experimental conditions, and isoprene-derived products made a negligible contribution to particle composition in the α-pinene–isoprene system. No compounds uniquely found in this system sufficiently contributed to be reliably considered a tracer compound for the mixture. Methyl-nitrocatechol isomers (C7H7NO4) and methyl-nitrophenol (C7H7NO3) from o-cresol oxidation made dominant contributions to the SOA particle composition in both the o-cresol–isoprene and o-cresol–α-pinene binary systems in negative ionization mode. In contrast, interactions in the oxidation mechanisms led to the formation of compounds uniquely found in the mixed o-cresol-containing binary systems in positive ionization mode. C9H11NO and C8H8O10 made large signal contributions in the o-cresol–isoprene binary system. The SOA molecular composition in the o-cresol–α-pinene system in positive ionization mode is mainly driven by the high-molecular-weight compounds (e.g. C20H31NO4 and C20H30O3) uniquely found in the mixture. The SOA particle chemical composition formed in the ternary system is more complex. The molecular composition and signal abundance are both markedly similar to those in the single α-pinene system in positive ionization mode, with major contributions from o-cresol products in negative ionization mode.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9799-9826
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number15
Early online date2 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2022


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