Articles | Volume 11, issue 4
Research article
24 Apr 2018
Research article |  | 24 Apr 2018

Laser ablation aerosol particle time-of-flight mass spectrometer (LAAPTOF): performance, reference spectra and classification of atmospheric samples

Xiaoli Shen, Ramakrishna Ramisetty, Claudia Mohr, Wei Huang, Thomas Leisner, and Harald Saathoff

Abstract. The laser ablation aerosol particle time-of-flight mass spectrometer (LAAPTOF, AeroMegt GmbH) is able to identify the chemical composition and mixing state of individual aerosol particles, and thus is a tool for elucidating their impacts on human health, visibility, ecosystem, and climate. The overall detection efficiency (ODE) of the instrument we use was determined to range from  ∼  (0.01 ± 0.01) to  ∼  (4.23 ± 2.36) % for polystyrene latex (PSL) in the size range of 200 to 2000 nm,  ∼  (0.44 ± 0.19) to  ∼  (6.57 ± 2.38) % for ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3), and  ∼  (0.14 ± 0.02) to  ∼  (1.46 ± 0.08) % for sodium chloride (NaCl) particles in the size range of 300 to 1000 nm. Reference mass spectra of 32 different particle types relevant for atmospheric aerosol (e.g. pure compounds NH4NO3, K2SO4, NaCl, oxalic acid, pinic acid, and pinonic acid; internal mixtures of e.g. salts, secondary organic aerosol, and metallic core–organic shell particles; more complex particles such as soot and dust particles) were determined. Our results show that internally mixed aerosol particles can result in spectra with new clusters of ions, rather than simply a combination of the spectra from the single components. An exemplary 1-day ambient data set was analysed by both classical fuzzy clustering and a reference-spectra-based classification method. Resulting identified particle types were generally well correlated. We show how a combination of both methods can greatly improve the interpretation of single-particle data in field measurements.

Short summary
This paper presents performance data and reference spectra from the commercially available single-particle mass spectrometer LAAPTOF. The main characteristics of the instrument, like its detection efficiency, are given for a wide particle size range. Furthermore, reference mass spectra for 32 well-defined different particle types relevant for atmospheric aerosol compounds are presented. It is shown that these reference mass spectra are very useful in analysis of atmospheric aerosol particles.