Sulfur speciation in individual aerosol particles

Kenneth R. Neubauer, Stephen T. Sum, Murray V. Johnston, Anthony S. Wexler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Sulfur aerosols play an important role in acid deposition and the Earth's energy balance. Important species in these aerosols include methanesulfonates, hydroxymethanesulfonates, sulfates, and sulfites. Because the relative amounts of these species indicate different sources and atmospheric processes, it is important to distinguish them in single-aerosol particles. To accomplish this task, we use rapid single-particle mass spectrometry (RSMS), a technique that permits individual particles to be analyzed in an online mode. Each sulfur species produces a characteristic set of ions in the mass spectra. In simulated marine and urban aerosols the relative amounts of methanesulfonic acid (MSA) and sodium hydroxymethanesulfonate (NaHMSA) in a single particle can be determined from peak area ratios in the mass spectra. Improved quantitation is possible by application of the classification and regression tree (CART) algorithm to distinguish the mass spectra of particles having different compositions. Factors that influence speciation include particle size, morphology, and laser fluence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18701-18707
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number13
StatePublished - Aug 20 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)


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