Get access

Measurements of volatile organic compounds in the earth's atmosphere using proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometry

Authors

  • Joost de Gouw,

    Corresponding author
    1. Chemical Sciences Division, Earth System Research Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, Colorado 80305
    2. Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309
    • Chemical Sciences Division, Earth System Research Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, CO 80305.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Carsten Warneke

    1. Chemical Sciences Division, Earth System Research Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, Colorado 80305
    2. Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado 80309
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) allows real-time measurements of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in air with a high sensitivity and a fast time response. The use of PTR-MS in atmospheric research has expanded rapidly in recent years, and much has been learned about the instrument response and specificity of the technique in the analysis of air from different regions of the atmosphere. This paper aims to review the progress that has been made. The theory of operation is described and allows the response of the instrument to be described for different operating conditions. More accurate determinations of the instrument response involve calibrations using standard mixtures, and some results are shown. Much has been learned about the specificity of PTR-MS from inter-comparison studies as well the coupling of PTR-MS with a gas chromatographic interface. The literature on this issue is reviewed and summarized for many VOCs of atmospheric interest. Some highlights of airborne measurements by PTR-MS are presented, including the results obtained in fresh and aged forest-fire and urban plumes. Finally, the recent work that is focused on improving the technique is discussed. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Mass Spec Rev 26:223–257, 2007

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary