Report

Heterogeneous Nucleation Experiments Bridging the Scale from Molecular Ion Clusters to Nanoparticles

Science  07 Mar 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5868, pp. 1374-1377
DOI: 10.1126/science.1149034

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Abstract

Generation, investigation, and manipulation of nanostructured materials are of fundamental and practical importance for several disciplines, including materials science and medicine. Recently, atmospheric new particle formation in the nanometer-size range has been found to be a global phenomenon. Still, its detailed mechanisms are mostly unknown, largely depending on the incapability to generate and measure nanoparticles in a controlled way. In our experiments, an organic vapor (n-propanol) condenses on molecular ions, as well as on charged and uncharged inorganic nanoparticles, via initial activation by heterogeneous nucleation. We found a smooth transition in activation behavior as a function of size and activation to occur well before the onset of homogeneous nucleation. Furthermore, nucleation enhancement for charged particles and a substantial negative sign preference were quantitatively detected.

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