The effect of acid-base clustering and ions on the growth of atmospheric nano-particles

Katrianne Lehtipalo, Linda Rondo, Jenni Kontkanen, Siegfried Schobesberger, Tuija Jokinen, Nina Sarnela, Andreas Kürten, Sebastian Ehrhart, Alessandro Franchin, Tuomo Nieminen, Francesco Riccobono, Mikko Sipilä, Taina Yli-Juuti, Jonathan Duplissy, Alexey Adamov, Lars Ahlm, João Almeida, Antonio Amorim, Federico Bianchi, Martin BreitenlechnerJosef Dommen, Andrew J. Downard, Eimear M. Dunne, Richard C. Flagan, Roberto Guida, Jani Hakala, Armin Hansel, Werner Jud, Juha Kangasluoma, Veli Matti Kerminen, Helmi Keskinen, Jaeseok Kim, Jasper Kirkby, Agnieszka Kupc, Oona Kupiainen-Määttä, Ari Laaksonen, Michael J. Lawler, Markus Leiminger, Serge Mathot, Tinja Olenius, Ismael K. Ortega, Antti Onnela, Tuukka Petäjä, Arnaud Praplan, Matti P. Rissanen, Taina Ruuskanen, Filipe D. Santos, Simon Schallhart, Ralf Schnitzhofer, Mario Simon, James N. Smith, Jasmin Tröstl, Georgios Tsagkogeorgas, António Tomé, Petri Vaattovaara, Hanna Vehkamäki, Aron E. Vrtala, Paul E. Wagner, Christina Williamson, Daniela Wimmer, Paul M. Winkler, Annele Virtanen, Neil M. Donahue, Kenneth S. Carslaw, Urs Baltensperger, Ilona Riipinen, Joachim Curtius, Douglas R. Worsnop, Markku Kulmala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

118 Citations (Scopus)


The growth of freshly formed aerosol particles can be the bottleneck in their survival to cloud condensation nuclei. It is therefore crucial to understand how particles grow in the atmosphere. Insufficient experimental data has impeded a profound understanding of nano-particle growth under atmospheric conditions. Here we study nano-particle growth in the CLOUD (Cosmics Leaving OUtdoors Droplets) chamber, starting from the formation of molecular clusters. We present measured growth rates at sub-3 nm sizes with different atmospherically relevant concentrations of sulphuric acid, water, ammonia and dimethylamine. We find that atmospheric ions and small acid-base clusters, which are not generally accounted for in the measurement of sulphuric acid vapour, can participate in the growth process, leading to enhanced growth rates. The availability of compounds capable of stabilizing sulphuric acid clusters governs the magnitude of these effects and thus the exact growth mechanism. We bring these observations into a coherent framework and discuss their significance in the atmosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11594
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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