Linking hygroscopicity and the surface microstructure of model inorganic salts, simple and complex carbohydrates, and authentic sea spray aerosol particles†
Individual airborne sea spray aerosol (SSA) particles show diversity in their morphologies and water uptake properties that are highly dependent on the biological, chemical, and physical processes within the sea subsurface and the sea surface microlayer. In this study, hygroscopicity data for model systems of organic compounds of marine origin mixed with NaCl are compared to data for authentic SSA samples collected in an ocean–atmosphere facility providing insights into the SSA particle growth, phase transitions and interactions with water vapor in the atmosphere. In particular, we combine single particle morphology analyses using atomic force microscopy (AFM) with hygroscopic growth measurements in order to provide important insights into particle hygroscopicity and the surface microstructure. For model systems, a range of simple and complex carbohydrates were studied including glucose, maltose, sucrose, laminarin, sodium alginate, and lipopolysaccharides. The measured hygroscopic growth was compared with predictions from the Extended-Aerosol Inorganics Model (E-AIM). It is shown here that the E-AIM model describes well the deliquescence transition and hygroscopic growth at low mass ratios but not as well for high ratios, most likely due to a high organic volume fraction. AFM imaging reveals that the equilibrium morphology of these single-component organic particles is amorphous. When NaCl is mixed with the organics, the particles adopt a core–shell morphology with a cubic NaCl core and the organics forming a shell similar to what is observed for the authentic SSA samples. The observation of such core–shell morphologies is found to be highly dependent on the salt to organic ratio and varies depending on the nature and solubility of the organic component. Additionally, single particle organic volume fraction AFM analysis of NaCl : glucose and NaCl : laminarin mixtures shows that the ratio of salt to organics in solution does not correspond exactly for individual particles – showing diversity within the ensemble of particles produced even for a simple two component system.