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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 18, issue 16
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 12075-12084, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-18-12075-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 12075-12084, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-18-12075-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 22 Aug 2018

Research article | 22 Aug 2018

Liquid–liquid phase separation in organic particles containing one and two organic species: importance of the average O : C

Mijung Song1, Suhan Ham1, Ryan J. Andrews2, Yuan You2, and Allan K. Bertram2 Mijung Song et al.
  • 1Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Chonbuk National University, Jeollabuk-do, Republic of Korea
  • 2Department of Chemistry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z1, Canada

Abstract. Recently, experimental studies have shown that liquid–liquid phase separation (LLPS) can occur in organic particles free of inorganic salts. Most of these studies used organic particles consisting of secondary organic materials generated in environmental chambers. To gain additional insight into LLPS in organic particles free of inorganic salts, we studied LLPS in organic particles consisting of one and two commercially available organic species. For particles containing one organic species, three out of the six particle types investigated underwent LLPS. In these cases, LLPS was observed when the O:C was  ≤ 0.44 (but not always) and the relative humidity (RH) was between  ∼ 97% and  ∼ 100%. The mechanism of phase separation was likely nucleation and growth. For particles containing two organic species, 13 out of the 15 particle types investigated underwent LLPS. In these cases, LLPS was observed when the O:C was  ≤ 0.58 (but not always) and mostly when the RH was between  ∼ 90% RH and  ∼ 100% RH. The mechanism of phase separation was likely spinodal decomposition. In almost all cases when LLPS was observed (for both one-component and two-component particles), the highest RH at which two liquids was observed was 100±2.0%, which has important implications for the cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) properties of these particles. These combined results provide additional evidence that LLPS needs to be considered when predicting the CCN properties of organic particles in the atmosphere.

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