Physical chemistry chemical physics : PCCP

Hygroscopic and phase transition properties of alkyl aminium sulfates at low relative humidities.

PMID 26153343


Alkyl aminium sulfates (AASs) can affect the physicochemical properties of atmospheric aerosols such as hygroscopicity. Previous laboratory experiments have shown that the water content in AAS bulk solutions is higher than in aqueous ammonium sulfate solution in the range of 60-95% relative humidity (RH). Furthermore, amine was found to evaporate from the solution during the preparation of AASs from the parent amine and sulfuric acid solutions. Here we report the hygroscopicities of deposited particles of four AASs at different aminium-to-sulfate molar ratios (A/Ss) in the range of <3-90% RH using air-flow cells coupled with in situ micro-Raman spectroscopy. Normalized integrated areas of O-H stretching peaks in the Raman spectra were converted to water-to-solute molar ratios (WSRs) at various RH values. Evaporation of amine was also observed in most cases and the exact A/Ss of sample particles or solutions were determined by ion chromatography. Mono-methylaminium sulfate (MMAS) and mono-ethylaminium sulfate (MEAS) particles were stable at A/S = 2.0, but di-methylaminium sulfate (DMAS) and tri-methylaminium sulfate (TMAS) suffered from DMA and TMA evaporation and eventually equilibrated to the A/S of 1.5 and 1.0, respectively. At these stable compositions MMAS and MEAS exhibited phase transitions in the super-saturation region, while DMAS and TMAS showed a continuous and reversible water uptake. Besides, an approach to estimate the hygroscopicities of DMAS and TMAS particles at an initial A/S larger than that of the stable compositions was presented. In the range of 60-95% RH, the WSRs of all the studied AAS particles were consistent with a previous study based on experimental values and the extended Zdanovskii-Stokes-Robinson equation. In general, all the studied AASs were more hygroscopic than their corresponding ammonium counterparts within the studied RH range and evaporation of amine needs to be corrected in studying unstable AAS particles.