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Atmospheric Measurement Techniques An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Short summary
Proton-Transfer-Reaction Mass Spectrometry (PTR-MS) instruments are widely used in the atmospheric community for measuring organic trace substances in the Earth's atmosphere. Some of these substances “stick” and slowly come off surfaces in the PTR-MS analyzer which makes it impossible to measure rapid changes in the atmosphere. Herein, we present a new type of PTR-MS instrument with a specially treated surface that greatly mitigates this problem.
Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2020-241
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2020-241

  21 Jul 2020

21 Jul 2020

Review status: a revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal AMT and is expected to appear here in due course.

Introducing the Extended Volatility Range Proton-Transfer-Reaction Mass Spectrometer (EVR PTR-MS)

Felix Piel1,2,a, Markus Müller1, Klaus Winkler1, Jenny Skytte af Sätra3,b, and Armin Wisthaler2,3 Felix Piel et al.
  • 1IONICON Analytik, Innsbruck, Austria
  • 2Institute for Ion Physics and Applied Physics, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
  • 3Department of Chemistry, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  • anow at: Department of Chemistry, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  • bnow at: Norwegian Environment Agency, Oslo, Norway

Abstract. Proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) is widely used in atmospheric sciences for measuring volatile organic compounds in real time. In the most widely used type of PTR-MS instruments, air is directly introduced into a chemical ionization reactor via an inlet capillary system. The reactor has a volumetric exchange time of ~ 0.1 s enabling PTR-MS analyzers to measure at a frequency of 10 Hz. The time response does, however, deteriorate if low-volatility analytes interact with surfaces in the inlet or in the instrument. Herein, we present the “Extended Volatility Range” (EVR) PTR-MS instrument which mitigates this issue. In the EVR configuration, inlet capillaries are made of passivated stainless steel and all wetted metal parts in the chemical ionization reactor are surface-passivated with a functionalized hydrogenated amorphous silicon coating. Heating the entire set-up to 120 °C further improves the time-response performance.

We carried out time-response performance tests on a set of 29 analytes having saturation mass concentrations C0 in the range between 10−3 and 105 µg m−3. 1/e-signal decay times after instant removal of the analyte from the sampling flow were between 0.2 and 90 s for gaseous analytes. We also tested the EVR PTR-MS instrument in combination with the CHARON particle inlet, and 1/e-signal decay times were in the range between 5 and 35 s for particulate analytes. We show on a set of exemplary compounds that the time-response performance of the EVR PTR-MS instrument is comparable to that of fastest flow tube chemical ionization mass spectrometers that are currently in use. The fast time response can be used for rapid (~ 1 min equilibration time) switching between gas and particle measurements. The CHARON EVR PTR-MS instrument can thus be used for real-time monitoring of both gaseous and particulate organics in the atmosphere. Finally, we show that the CHARON EVR PTR-MS instrument is capable of detecting highly oxygenated species (with up to eight oxygen atoms) in particles formed by limonene ozonolysis.

Felix Piel et al.

 
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Felix Piel et al.

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Latest update: 20 Jan 2021
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Short summary
Proton-Transfer-Reaction Mass Spectrometry (PTR-MS) instruments are widely used in the atmospheric community for measuring organic trace substances in the Earth's atmosphere. Some of these substances “stick” and slowly come off surfaces in the PTR-MS analyzer which makes it impossible to measure rapid changes in the atmosphere. Herein, we present a new type of PTR-MS instrument with a specially treated surface that greatly mitigates this problem.
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