Field intercomparison of the gas/particle partitioning of oxygenated organics during the Southern Oxidant and Aerosol Study (SOAS) in 2013

S.L. Thompson, R.L.N. Yatavelli, H. Stark, J.R. Kimmel, J.E. Krechmer, D.A. Day, W. Hu, G. Isaacman-VanWertz, L. Yee, A.H. Goldstein, Anwar Khan, R. Holzinger, N. Kreisberg, F.D. Lopez-Hilfiker, C. Mohr, J.A. Thornton, J.T. Jayne, M. Canagaratna, D.R. Worsnop, J.L. Jimenez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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We present results of the first intercomparison of real-time instruments for gas/particle partitioning of organic species. Four recently-developed instruments that directly measure gas/particle partitioning in near-real time were deployed in Centreville, Alabama during the Southern Oxidant Aerosol Study (SOAS) in 2013. Two instruments were Filter Inlet for Gases and AEROsols High-Resolution Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometers (FIGAERO-HRToF-CIMS) with acetate (A-CIMS) and iodide (I-CIMS) ionization sources, respectively; the third was a Semi-Volatile Thermal Desorption Aerosol GC-MS (SV-TAG); and the fourth was a High-Resolution Thermal Desorption Proton-Transfer Reaction Mass Spectrometer (HR-TD-PTRMS). Signals from these instruments corresponding to several organic acids were chosen for comparison. The campaign average partitioning fractions show good correlation. A similar level of agreement with partitioning theory is observed. Thus the intercomparison exercise shows promise for these new measurements, as well as some confidence on the measurement of low vs. high particle-phase fractions. However, detailed comparison show several systematic differences that lie beyond estimated measurement errors. These differences may be due to at least eight different effects: (1) underestimation of uncertainties under low signal-to-noise; (2) inlet and/or instrument adsorption/desorption of gases; (3) differences in particle size ranges sampled; (4) differences in the methods used to quantify instrument backgrounds; (5) errors in high-resolution fitting of overlapping ion groups; (6) differences in the species included in each measurement due to different instrument sensitivities; and differences in (7) negative or (8) positive thermal decomposition (or ion fragmentation) artifacts. The available data are insufficient to conclusively identify the reasons, but evidence from these instruments and available data from an ion mobility spectrometer shows the particular importance of effects 6–8 in several cases. This comparison highlights the difficulty of this measurement and its interpretation in a complex ambient environment, and the need for further improvements in measurement methodologies, including isomer separation, and detailed study of the possible factors leading to the observed differences. Further intercomparisons under controlled laboratory and field conditions are strongly recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-56
Number of pages27
JournalAerosol Science and Technology
Issue number1
Early online date1 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


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