Real refractive indices of α- and β-pinene and toluene secondary organic aerosols generated from ozonolysis and photo-oxidation

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Abstract

[1] The refractive index is the fundamental property controlling aerosol optical properties. Secondary organic aerosol (SOA) real refractive indices (mr) were derived from polar nephelometer measurements using parallel and perpendicular polarized 670 nm light, using a genetic algorithm method with Mie-Lorenz scattering theory and measured particle size distributions. The absolute error associated with the mr retrieval is ±0.03, and the instrument has sufficient sensitivity to achieve reliable retrievals for particles larger than about 200 nm. SOA generated by oxidizing α-pinene, β-pinene, and toluene with ozone and NOx/sunlight are explored. Retrieved refractive indices for the SOA vary between 1.38 and 1.61, depending on several factors. For α- and β-pinene ozonolysis, SOA mr ranges from 1.4 to 1.5 and, within the resolution of our method and bounds of our experiments, is not affected by the addition of an OH scavenger, and is only slightly dependent on the aerosol mass concentration. For photochemically generated SOA, mr generally increases as experiments progress, ranging from about 1.4 to 1.53 for α-pinene, 1.38 to 1.53 for β-pinene, and 1.4 to 1.6 for toluene. The pinene SOA mr appear to decrease somewhat toward the end of the experiments. Aspects of the data suggest aerosol mass concentration, oxidation chemistry, temperature, and aerosol aging may all influence the refractive index. There is more work to be done before recommendations can be made for atmospheric applications, but our calculations of the resulting asymmetry parameter indicate that a single value for SOA refractive index will not be sufficient to accurately model radiative transfer.

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