01 Sep 2022
01 Sep 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Quantitative Chemical Assay of Nanogram-Level PM Using Aerosol Mass Spectrometry: Characterization of Particles Collected from Uncrewed Atmospheric Measurement Platforms

Christopher Richard Niedek1,2, Fan Mei3, Maria A. Zawadowicz4, Zihua Zhu3, Beat Schmid3, and Qi Zhang1,2 Christopher Richard Niedek et al.
  • 1Department of Environmental Toxicology, University of California, 1 Shields Ave., Davis, California 95616, United States
  • 2Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry Graduate Program, University of California, 1 Shields Ave., Davis, California 95616, United States
  • 3Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington 99352, United States
  • 4Environmental and Climate Sciences Department, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, New York 11973, United States

Abstract. Aerosol generation techniques have expanded the utility of aerosol mass spectrometry (AMS) for offline chemical analysis of airborne particles and droplets. However, standard aerosolization techniques require relatively large liquid volumes (e.g., several milliliters) and high sample masses that limit their utility. Here we report the development and characterization of a micronebulization-AMS (MN-AMS) technique that requires as low as 10 μL of sample and can provide quantification of nanogram level of organic and inorganic substances via the usage of an isotopically labeled internal standard (34SO42−). Using standard solutions, the detection limits for this technique were determined at 0.189, 0.751, and 2.19 ng for sulfate, nitrate, and organics, respectively. The analytical recoveries for these species are 104 %, 87 %, and 94 %, respectively. This MN-AMS technique was applied successfully to analyzing filter and impactor samples collected using miniature PM samplers deployable on uncrewed atmospheric measurement platforms, such as uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) and tethered balloon systems (TBS). Chemical composition of PM samples collected from a UAS field campaign conducted at the DOE Southern Great Plains (SGP) observatory was characterized. The offline MN-AMS data compared well with the in situ PM composition measured by a co-located Aerosol Chemical Speciation Monitor (ACSM). In addition, the MN-AMS and ion chromatography (IC) agreed well for measurements of sulfate and nitrate concentrations in the PM extracts. This study demonstrates the utility of combining MN-AMS with uncrewed measurement platforms to provide quantitative measurements of ambient PM composition with temporal and spatial resolution.

Christopher Richard Niedek et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on amt-2022-246', Anonymous Referee #1, 21 Oct 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on amt-2022-246', Anonymous Referee #2, 26 Oct 2022
  • RC3: 'Comment on amt-2022-246', Anonymous Referee #3, 13 Nov 2022

Christopher Richard Niedek et al.

Christopher Richard Niedek et al.


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Short summary
Improving aerosol measurement techniques is key to advancing our understanding of atmospheric aerosol chemistry. Here we describe a technique for analyzing low volume samples containing nanogram levels of organic and inorganic material using a micronebulizer, internal standard, and aerosol mass spectrometer. This is a significant improvement on standard sample analyses, opening new avenues of study like the analysis of particle samples collected with uncrewed aerial systems also described here.