1School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA
2School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA
3Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
4Department of Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
*now at: Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of California-Riverside, CA, USA
**now at: Division of Math, Science, and Technology, Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
Abstract. Cloud formation characteristics of the water-soluble organic fraction (WSOC) of secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formed from the ozonolysis of alkene hydrocarbons (terpinolene, 1-methlycycloheptene and cycloheptene) are studied. Based on size-resolved measurements of CCN activity (of the pure and salted WSOC samples) we estimate the average molar volume and surface tension depression associated with the WSOC using Köhler Theory Analysis (KTA). Consistent with known speciation, the results suggest that the WSOC are composed of low molecular weight species, with an effective molar mass below 200 g mol−1. The water-soluble carbon is also surface-active, depressing surface tension 10–15% from that of pure water (at CCN-relevant concentrations). The inherent hygroscopicity parameter, κ, of the WSOC ranges between 0.17 and 0.25; if surface tension depression and molar volume effects are considered in κ, a remarkably constant "apparent" hygroscopicity ~0.3 emerges for all samples considered. This implies that the volume fraction of soluble material in the parent aerosol is the key composition parameter required for prediction of the SOA hygroscopicity, as shifts in molar volume across samples are compensated by changes in surface tension. Finally, using "threshold droplet growth analysis", the water-soluble organics in all samples considered do not affect CCN activation kinetics.