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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-2020-68
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2020-68
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 04 Mar 2020

Submitted as: research article | 04 Mar 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Photophoretic spectroscopy in atmospheric chemistry – high sensitivity measurements of light absorption by a single particle

Nir Bluvshtein, Ulrich K. Krieger, and Thomas Peter Nir Bluvshtein et al.
  • Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zurich, 8092, Switzerland

Abstract. Light absorbing organic atmospheric particles, termed brown carbon, undergo chemical and photochemical aging processes during their lifetime in the atmosphere. The role these particles play in the global radiative balance and in the climate system is still uncertain. To better quantify their radiative forcing due to aerosol-radiation interactions, we need to improve process level understanding of aging processes, which lead to either "browning" or "bleaching" of organic aerosols. Currently available laboratory techniques aim to simulate atmospheric aerosol aging and measure the evolving light absorption, but suffer from low sensitivity and precision. This study describes the use of electrodynamic balance photophoretic spectroscopy (EDB-PPS) for high sensitivity and high precision measurements of light absorption by a single particle. We demonstrate the retrieval of time-evolving imaginary part of the refractive index for a single levitated particle in the range of 10−4 to 10−5 with uncertainties of less than 25 % and 60 %, respectively. The experimental system is housed within an environmental chamber, in which aging processes can be simulated in realistic atmospheric conditions and lifetime of days to weeks. This high level of sensitivity enables future studies to explore the major processes responsible for formation and degradation of brown carbon aerosols.

Nir Bluvshtein et al.

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Nir Bluvshtein et al.

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Short summary
Light absorbing organic particles undergo transformations during their exposure in the atmosphere. The role these particles play in the global radiative balance is uncertain. This study describes high sensitivity and high precision measurements of light absorption by a single particle levitated in an electrodynamic balance. This high level of sensitivity enables future studies to explore the major processes responsible for changes to the particle’s light absorptivity.
Light absorbing organic particles undergo transformations during their exposure in the...
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