Experimental investigation of the role of ions in aerosol nucleation

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The role of ions in producing aerosols in Earth’s atmosphere is an area of very active research. Atmospheric (Clarke et al. 1998) and experimental (Berndt et al. 2005) observations have shown that the nucleation of aerosol particles can occur under conditions that cannot be explained by classical nucleation theory. Several ideas have been put forward to solve this nucleation problem, e.g. Ion-Induced Nucleation (Raes & Janssens 1985) and Ternary Nucleation (Kulmala et al. 2000). Experimental investigations exploring the role of ions in particle production are scarce, and often at conditions far removed from those relevant for the lower part of the atmosphere (Bricard et al. 1968). Recent experimental work (Svensmark et al. 2007) demonstrated that ions, produced by cosmic rays in the atmosphere, are likely to play an important role in the production of new aerosol particles. The mechanism whereby energetic cosmic rays can promote the production of cloud condensation nuclei at low altitudes constitutes a link between cosmic rays and Earth's climate and there is thus a need to corroborate the results in a different experiment The present results are obtained in the same laboratory, but using a new setup The experiments were conducted in a 50 L cylindrical reaction chamber made of electropolished stainless steel. Aerosols were grown using photochemically produced sulphuric acid and ionization levels were controlled with a Cs-137 gamma-source. An increase in nucleation was observed when the chamber was exposed to the radioactive source. The results were analyzed using a model based on the General Dynamic Equation and the analysis revealed that Ion Induced Nucleation is the most likely mechanism for the observed nucleation increases and thus confirm the previous results.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2008
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Event2008 European Aerosol Conference - Thessaloniki, Greece
Duration: 24 Aug 200829 Aug 2008


Conference2008 European Aerosol Conference


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