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Direct observation of water uptake and release in individual submicrometer sized ammonium sulfate and ammonium sulfate/adipic acid particles using X-ray microspectroscopy

Journal of Aerosol Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.jaerosci.2010.11.001
  • Ammonium Sulfate
  • Adipic Acid
  • Water Uptake
  • Microspectroscopy
  • Chemistry


Abstract Scanning transmission X-ray microscopy (STXM), a microscopy method which allows imaging with a spatial resolution of 40 nm, and X-ray absorption spectroscopy were used to follow in situ the water uptake and release in submicrometer sized particles on a substrate enclosed in a microreactor. Oxygen K-edge near edge X-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) spectra from supported ammonium sulfate particles in their dry salt, saturated solution and supersaturated solution states were obtained for the first time. The variations at the oxygen edge were related to the water content as a function of relative humidity (RH), consistent with mass growth measurements done on larger samples or suspended particle ensembles. Investigations on morphological changes upon water uptake were performed in mixed ammonium sulfate-adipic acid particles using STXM images and NEXAFS spectra taken at the oxygen and the carbon absorption edges, confirming the two phase structure suspected from previous hygroscopicity studies, where adipic acid forms a separate phase of complex morphology partially enclosed by the ammonium sulfate solution at high RH. This example emphasizes the combination of chemical resolution provided via NEXAFS, spatial resolution via STXM and the in situ capability provided by the novel microreactor to obtain information about the microstructure of mixed organic/inorganic particles under close to ambient conditions.

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