Coz, E., B. Artinano, A.L. Robinson, G.S. Casuccio, T.L. Lersch and S.N. Pandis, “Individual Particle Morphology and Acidity”, Aerosol Science and Technology, Vol. 42(3), pp. 224-232, 2008. DOI: 10.1080/02786820801958759
The morphological characterization of particles during the Pittsburgh Air Quality Study (PAQS) suggests that particle shape and physical state depends on their acidity. The aerosol shape parameters measured by Computer-Controlled Scanning Electron Microscopy (CCSEM) are statistically different in periods when atmospheric particles are neutral and when they are acidic. High concentrations of particles smaller than 500 nm with high sulfur content and liquid appearance or signs of a previous liquid state before partial or total recrystallization are present on filters collected in days with high aerosol acidity. By contrast, in winter and summer periods in which the aerosol was neutral, the shape parameter values are similar and suggest that the particles have been dried out. These direct observations support the hypothesis that during summer acidic periods in the Eastern United States the particles may contain some water even at low relative humidity both in the atmosphere and on filters.