Articles | Volume 5, issue 1
Research article
23 Jan 2012
Research article |  | 23 Jan 2012

Quantification of gas-phase glyoxal and methylglyoxal via the Laser-Induced Phosphorescence of (methyl)GLyOxal Spectrometry (LIPGLOS) Method

S. B. Henry, A. Kammrath, and F. N. Keutsch

Abstract. Glyoxal and methylglyoxal are key products of oxidative photochemistry in the lower troposphere. Reliable measurements of such compounds are critical for testing our understanding of volatile organic compound (VOC) processing in this region. We present a new method for obtaining sensitive, high time resolution, in situ measurements of these compounds via laser-induced phosphorescent decays. By exploiting the unique phosphorescent lifetimes for each molecule, this method achieves speciation and high-sensitivity quantification of both molecules. With two different light sources at different wavelengths, the lowest 3σ limits of detection observed during calibration with this method are 11 pptv in 5 min for glyoxal and 243 pptv in 5 min for methylglyoxal. During ambient measurements of glyoxal, a 3σ limit of detection of <4.4 pptv in 5 min was observed. Additionally, this method enables the simultaneous measurement of both glyoxal and methylglyoxal using a single, non-wavelength-tunable light source, which will allow for the development of inexpensive (~$40 k) and turnkey instrumentation. The simplicity and affordability of this new instrumentation would enable the construction of a long-term, spatially distributed database of these two key species. This chemical map can be used to constrain or drive regional or global models as well as provide verification of satellite observations.