Articles | Volume 8, issue 3
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 8, 1183–1195, 2015
Atmos. Meas. Tech., 8, 1183–1195, 2015

Research article 10 Mar 2015

Research article | 10 Mar 2015

A new electrodynamic balance (EDB) design for low-temperature studies: application to immersion freezing of pollen extract bioaerosols

H.-J. Tong1, B. Ouyang1, N. Nikolovski2, D. M. Lienhard1, F. D. Pope3, and M. Kalberer1 H.-J. Tong et al.
  • 1Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Cambridge, Lensfield Road, Cambridge, CB2 1EW, UK
  • 2Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, Tennis Court Road, Cambridge, CB2 1QW, UK
  • 3School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK

Abstract. In this paper we describe a newly designed cold electrodynamic balance(CEDB) system, built to study the evaporation kinetics and freezing properties of supercooled water droplets. The temperature of the CEDB chamber at the location of the levitated water droplet can be controlled in the range −40 to +40 °C, which is achieved using a combination of liquid nitrogen cooling and heating by positive temperature coefficient heaters. The measurement of liquid droplet radius is obtained by analysing the Mie elastic light scattering from a 532 nm laser. The Mie scattering signal was also used to characterise and distinguish droplet freezing events; liquid droplets produce a regular fringe pattern, whilst the pattern from frozen particles is irregular. The evaporation rate of singly levitated water droplets was calculated from time-resolved measurements of the radii of evaporating droplets and a clear trend of the evaporation rate on temperature was measured. The statistical freezing probabilities of aqueous pollen extracts (pollen washing water) are obtained in the temperature range −4.5 to −40 °C. It was found that that pollen washing water from water birch (Betula fontinalis occidentalis) pollen can act as ice nuclei in the immersion freezing mode at temperatures as warm as −22.45 (±0.65) °C. Furthermore it was found that the protein-rich component of the washing water was significantly more ice-active than the non-proteinaceous component.

Short summary
This paper describes a newly designed cold electrodynamic balance (EDB) which can be used to study the evaporation kinetics and freezing properties of aerosols at temperatures down to -40˚C. The abilities of the new EDB are exemplified through the study of the immersion freezing properties of water droplets containing extracts of water birch pollen (Betula fontinalis occidentalis). Protein-rich pollen extracts are found to be significantly more ice-active than non-proteinaceous extracts.