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Keywords:

  • atmospheric chemistry;
  • aerosols;
  • particulate matter

Abstract

Many of the significant advances in our understanding of atmospheric particles can be attributed to the application of mass spectrometry. Mass spectrometry provides high sensitivity with fast response time to probe chemically complex particles. This review focuses on recent developments and applications in the field of mass spectrometry of atmospheric aerosols. In Part II of this two-part review, we concentrate on real-time mass spectrometry techniques, which provide high time resolution for insight into brief events and diurnal changes while eliminating the potential artifacts acquired during long-term filter sampling. In particular, real-time mass spectrometry has been shown recently to provide the ability to probe the chemical composition of ambient individual particles <30 nm in diameter to further our understanding of how particles are formed through nucleation in the atmosphere. Further, transportable real-time mass spectrometry techniques are now used frequently on ground-, ship-, and aircraft-based studies around the globe to further our understanding of the spatial distribution of atmospheric aerosols. In addition, coupling aerosol mass spectrometry techniques with other measurements in series has allowed the in situ determination of chemically resolved particle effective density, refractive index, volatility, and cloud activation properties. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc., Mass Spec Rev 31:17–48, 2012