Nitrate Photolysis in Mixed Sucrose-Nitrate-Sulfate Particles at Different Relative Humidities

Zhancong Liang, Ruifeng Zhang, Masao Gen, Yangxi Chu, Chak K. Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Atmospheric particles can be viscous. The limitation in diffusion impedes the mass transfer of oxidants from the gas phase to the particle phase and hinders multiphase oxidation processes. On the other hand, nitrate photolysis has been found to be effective in producing oxidants such as OH radicals within the particles. Whether nitrate photolysis can effectively proceed in viscous particles and how it may affect the physicochemical properties of the particle have not been much explored. In this study, we investigated particulate nitrate photolysis in mixed sucrose-nitrate-sulfate particles as surrogates of atmospheric viscous particles containing organic and inorganic components as a function of relative humidity (RH) and the molar fraction of sucrose to the total solute (FSU) with an in situ micro-Raman system. Sucrose suppressed nitrate crystallization, and high photolysis rate constants (∼10-5 s-1) were found, irrespective of the RH. For FSU = 0.5 and 0.33 particles under irradiation at 30% RH, we observed morphological changes from droplets to the formation of inclusions and then likely "hollow"semisolid particles, which did not show Raman signal at central locations. Together with the phase states of inorganics indicated by the full width at half-maxima (FWHM), images with bulged surfaces, and size increase of the particles in optical microscopic imaging, we inferred that the hindered diffusion of gaseous products (i.e., NOx, NOy) from nitrate photolysis is a likely reason for the morphological changes. Atmospheric implications of these results are also presented.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3739-3747
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry A
Issue number17
StatePublished - May 6 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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