Aerosol nucleation in an ultra-low ion density environment

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    Ion-induced nucleation has been studied in a deep underground ultra-low background radiation environment where the role of ions can be distinguished from alternative neutral aerosol nucleation mechanisms. Our results demonstrate that ions have a significant effect on the production of small sulfuric acid–water clusters over a range of sulfuric acid concentrations although neutral nucleation mechanisms remain evident at low ionization levels. The effect of ions is found both to enhance the nucleation rate of stable clusters and the initial growth rate. The effects of possible contaminations are also discussed and are believed to be small, but cannot be excluded. If our results can be extrapolated to conditions that resemble the clean air atmosphere over the Earth's oceans they suggest that ions may dominate the production of small (4nm) aerosols here.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Aerosol Science
    Pages (from-to)75-85
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • Aerosol particles
    • Atmospheric nucleation
    • Ion-induced nucleation
    • Sulfuric acid
    • Low background


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