Applications and limitations of constrained high-resolution peak fitting on low resolving power mass spectra from the ToF-ACSM
Abstract. The applicability, methods and limitations of constrained peak fitting on mass spectra of low mass resolving power (m∕Δm50 ∼ 500) recorded with a time-of-flight aerosol chemical speciation monitor (ToF-ACSM) are explored. Calibration measurements as well as ambient data are used to exemplify the methods that should be applied to maximise data quality and assess confidence in peak-fitting results. Sensitivity analyses and basic peak fit metrics such as normalised ion separation are employed to demonstrate which peak-fitting analyses commonly performed in high-resolution aerosol mass spectrometry are appropriate to perform on spectra of this resolving power. Information on aerosol sulfate, nitrate, sodium chloride, methanesulfonic acid as well as semi-volatile metal species retrieved from these methods is evaluated. The constants in a commonly used formula for the estimation of the mass concentration of hydrocarbon-like organic aerosol may be refined based on peak-fitting results. Finally, application of a recently published parameterisation for the estimation of carbon oxidation state to ToF-ACSM spectra is validated for a range of organic standards and its use demonstrated for ambient urban data.