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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 16, issue 1
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 135–143, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-16-135-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 135–143, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-16-135-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 15 Jan 2016

Research article | 15 Jan 2016

An adsorption theory of heterogeneous nucleation of water vapour on nanoparticles

A. Laaksonen1,2 and J. Malila2 A. Laaksonen and J. Malila
  • 1Finnish Meteorological Institute, P.O. Box 503, 00101 Helsinki, Finland
  • 2University of Eastern Finland, Department of Applied Physics, P.O. Box 1627, 70211 Kuopio, Finland

Abstract. Heterogeneous nucleation of water vapour on insoluble nuclei is a phenomenon that can induce atmospheric water and ice cloud formation. However, modelling of the phenomenon is hampered by the fact that the predictive capability of the classical heterogeneous nucleation theory is rather poor. A reliable theoretical description of the influence of different types of water-insoluble nuclei in triggering the water condensation or ice deposition would help to decrease uncertainty in large-scale model simulations. In this paper we extend a recently formulated adsorption theory of heterogeneous nucleation to be applicable to highly curved surfaces, and test the theory against laboratory data for water vapour nucleation on silica, titanium dioxide and silver oxide nanoparticles. We show that unlike the classical heterogeneous nucleation theory, the new theory is able to quantitatively predict the experimental results.

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Short summary
Heterogeneous nucleation is a phenomenon that starts the condensation of supersaturated vapours on solid surfaces. An example is the formation of cirrus clouds in the atmosphere: their formation is often triggered at relative humidities clearly above 100%. We derive a new theory that can be used to calculate the threshold supersaturation of heterogeneous nucleation of water vapour on nanoparticles and show that it performs significantly better than older theories when compared to lab experiment.
Heterogeneous nucleation is a phenomenon that starts the condensation of supersaturated vapours...
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