Photoenhanced uptake of gaseous NO2 on solid organic compounds: a photochemical source of HONO?
In several recent field campaigns the existence of a strong daytime source of nitrous acid was demonstrated. The mechanism of this source remains unclear. Accordingly, in the present laboratory study, the effect of light (in the range 300–500 nm) on the uptake kinetics of NO2 on various surfaces taken as proxies for organic surfaces encountered in the troposphere (as organic aerosol but also ground surfaces) was investigated. In this collaborative study, the uptake kinetics and product formation rate were measured by different flow tube reactors in combination with a sensitive HONO instrument. Uptake on light absorbing aromatic compounds was significantly enhanced when irradiated with light of 300–420 nm, and HONO was formed with high yield when the gas was humidified. Especially organic substrates containing a combination of electron donors, such as phenols, and of compounds yielding excited triplet states, such as aromatic ketones, showed a high reactivity towards NO2. Based on the results reported a mechanism is suggested, in which photosensitised electron transfer is occurring. The results show that HONO can be efficiently formed during the day in the atmosphere at much longer wavelengths compared to the recently proposed nitrate photolysis.