Adsorption of organic molecules may explain growth of newly nucleated clusters and new particle formation

Jian Wang, Anthony S. Wexler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


New particle formation consists of homogeneous nucleation of thermodynamically stable clusters followed by growth of these clusters to a detectable size. For new particle formation to take place, these clusters need to grow sufficiently fast to escape coagulation with preexisting particles. Previous studies indicated that condensation of low-volatility organic vapor may play an important role in the initial growth of the clusters. However, due to the relatively high vapor pressure and partial molar volume of even highly oxidized organic compounds, the strong Kelvin effect may prevent typical ambient organics from condensing on these small clusters. Here we show that the adsorption of organic molecules onto the surface of clusters, not considered previously, may significantly reduce the saturation ratio required for the condensation of organics to occur and therefore may provide a physicochemical explanation for the enhanced initial growth by condensation of organics despite the strong Kelvin effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2834-2838
Number of pages5
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 16 2013


  • adsorption
  • initial particle growth
  • Kelvin effect
  • new particle formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
  • Geophysics


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