Atmospheric New Particle Formation Enhanced by Organic Acids

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Science  04 Jun 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5676, pp. 1487-1490
DOI: 10.1126/science.1095139

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Atmospheric aerosols often contain a substantial fraction of organic matter, but the role of organic compounds in new nanometer-sized particle formation is highly uncertain. Laboratory experiments show that nucleation of sulfuric acid is considerably enhanced in the presence of aromatic acids. Theoretical calculations identify the formation of an unusually stable aromatic acid–sulfuric acid complex, which likely leads to a reduced nucleation barrier. The results imply that the interaction between organic and sulfuric acids promotes efficient formation of organic and sulfate aerosols in the polluted atmosphere because of emissions from burning of fossil fuels, which strongly affect human health and global climate.

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