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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2019-23
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2019-23
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 31 Jan 2019

Research article | 31 Jan 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Measurement Techniques (AMT).

Humidity effects on the detection of soluble and insoluble nanoparticles in butanol operated condensation particle counters

Christian Tauber1, Sophia Brilke1, Peter Josef Wlasits1, Paulus Salomon Bauer1, Gerald Köberl1, Gerhard Steiner1,2,3, and Paul Martin Winkler1 Christian Tauber et al.
  • 1Faculty of Physics, University of Vienna, Boltzmanngasse 5, 1090 Vienna, Austria
  • 2Institute for Ion Physics and Applied Physics, University of Innsbruck, Technikerstraße 25/3, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
  • 3Grimm Aerosol Technik Ainring GmbH & Co Kg, Dorfstraße 9 Ainring, 83404 Ainring, Germany

Abstract. In this study the impact of humidity on heterogeneous nucleation of n-butanol onto hygroscopic and nonabsorbent particles was investigated using a fast expansion chamber and commercial continuous flow type condensation particle counters (CPCs). More specifically, we measured the activation probability of sodium chloride (NaCl) and silver (Ag) nano-particles by using n-butanol as condensing liquid with the size analyzing nuclei counter (SANC). In addition, the cut-off diameter of regular butanol based CPCs for both seed materials was measured and compared to SANC results. Our findings reveal a strong humidity dependence of NaCl particles in the sub-10 nm size range since the activation of sodium chloride seeds is enhanced with increasing relative humidity. For Ag seeds this humidity dependence was not observed, underlining the importance of molecular interactions between seed and vapor molecules. Consequently, the cut-off diameter of a butanol based CPC can be reduced significantly by increasing the relative humidity. This finding suggests that cut-off diameters of butanol CPCs under ambient conditions are likely smaller than corresponding cut-off diameters measured under clean (dry) laboratory conditions. At the same time, we caution that the humidity dependence may lead to wrong interpretations if the aerosol composition is not known.

Christian Tauber et al.
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Christian Tauber et al.
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Short summary
In this manuscript we show that sodium chloride particles with a mobility diameter below 10 nm indicate different activation regimes. The results of our studies reveal that with increasing humidity the activation of NaCl particles with a standard butanol-based CPC can be enhanced. For Ag this humidity dependence could not be observed – an indicator for the importance of molecular interactions between seed and vapor molecules.
In this manuscript we show that sodium chloride particles with a mobility diameter below 10 nm...
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