Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2021-271
https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-2021-271

  17 Sep 2021

17 Sep 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Design, characterization, and first field deployment of a novel aircraft-based aerosol mass spectrometer combining the laser ablation and flash vaporization techniques

Andreas Hünig1,2, Oliver Appel1,2, Antonis Dragoneas1,2, Sergej Molleker1,2, Hans-Christian Clemen2, Frank Helleis2, Thomas Klimach2, Franziska Köllner1, Thomas Böttger2, Frank Drewnick2, Johannes Schneider2, and Stephan Borrmann1,2 Andreas Hünig et al.
  • 1Institute for Atmospheric Physics, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany
  • 2Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany

Abstract. In this paper, we present the design, development, and characteristics of the novel aerosol mass spectrometer ERICA (ERC Instrument for Chemical composition of Aerosols) and selected results from the first aircraft-borne field deployment. The instrument combines two well-established methods of real-time in-situ measurements of fine particle chemical composition. The first method is the single particle laser ablation technique (here with a frequency-quadrupled Nd:YAG laser at λ = 266 nm). The other method is a combination of flash vaporization and electron impact ionization (like the Aerodyne aerosol mass spectrometer). The aerosol sample can be analyzed with both methods, each using time-of-flight mass spectrometry. By means of the laser ablation, single particles are qualitatively analyzed (including the refractory components) while the flash vaporization and electron impact ionization technique provides quantitative information on the non-refractory components (i.e., particulate sulfate, nitrate, ammonia, organics, and chloride) of small particle ensembles. These techniques are implemented in two consecutive instrument stages within a common sample inlet and a common vacuum chamber. At its front end, the sample air containing the aerosol particles is continuously injected via an aerodynamic lens (ADL). All particles which are not ablated by the Nd:YAG laser in the first instrument stage continue their flight until they reach the second instrument stage and impact on the vaporizer surface (operated at 600 °C). The ERICA is capable of detecting single particles with vacuum aerodynamic diameters (dva) between ~ 180 nm and 3170 nm (d50 cut-off). The chemical characterization of single particles is achieved by recording cations and anions with a bipolar time-of-flight mass spectrometer (B-ToF-MS). For the measurement of non-refractory components, the particle size range extends from approximately 120 nm to 3.5 µm (d50 cut-off; dva), and the cations are detected with a C-ToF-MS (compact time-of-flight mass spectrometer). The compact dimensions of the instrument are such that the ERICA can be deployed on aircraft, ground stations, or mobile laboratories . During its first deployments the instrument operated fully automated during 11 research flights on the Russian high-altitude research aircraft M-55 Geophysica from ground pressure and temperature up to 20 km altitude at 55 hPa and ambient temperatures as low as −86 °C.

Andreas Hünig et al.

Status: open (until 23 Oct 2021)

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Andreas Hünig et al.

Andreas Hünig et al.

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Short summary
We have serially combined the two well-established methods for in situ real-time measurement of fine particle chemical composition, the single particle laser ablation method and the flash evaporation with electron impact ionization method, into a novel instrument. Here we present the design, instrument characteristics, as derived from laboratory and field measurements, and results from the first field deployment during the 2017 StratoClim aircraft campaign.