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Generating an aerosol of homogeneous, non-spherical particles and measuring their bipolar charge distribution

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Johnson, TJ 
Nishida, RT 
Symonds, JPR 
Olfert, JS 


The Aerodynamic Aerosol Classifier (AAC) and Differential Mobility Analyzer (DMA) are aerosol classifiers commonly used to generate a monodispersed aerosol by selecting particles within a narrow range of relaxation times or electrical mobilities, respectively. However, generating an aerosol of homogeneous particles, which has narrow ranges of particle mass, mobility and relaxation time simultaneously, with either of these methods is challenging. Particles classified by the DMA are often not homogeneous (or monodispersed) due to multiply-charged particles. While the AAC overcomes this challenge for spherical particles, homogeneity is not achieved with non-spherical particles due to their effective density varying with particle size. This study demonstrates using an AAC and DMA in tandem to generate an aerosol of homogeneous, non-spherical particles. This approach is validated using scanning electron microscope (SEM) images and electrical mobility measurements of the tandem-classified particles to highlight their homogeneity. To limit the effects of multiple charging during DMA classification, only a subset of DMA and AAC setpoints are permitted. While this subset is not representative of “average” non-spherical particles from the same aerosol source, this subset of low-density particles deviates the most from spherical morphology, and thus, provide insights into the upper bound of other particle properties, such as charging. Using this approach to select homogeneous particles, the bipolar charge distribution of low-density soot aggregates is then measured using another DMA. This AAC-DMA-DMA approach is demonstrated to measure up to 17 individual charge states (i.e. −8 to +8) after neutralization (with 85Kr) of size-resolved, soot aggregates with mobility diameters between 80 and 433 nm. The low-density soot aggregates obtain higher charges than predicted by theory, which overestimates the uncharged fraction (by 0.042–0.069) and, to a lesser extent, the single charge fractions (by up to 0.037) of the low-density soot aggregates, while underestimating their proportion of multiple charging (by up to 0.135 cumulatively at one particle size or up to 0.039 at one multiple charge state and size). These charging discrepancies represent an upper bound of the bipolar charging of average aggregates from the same source of flame soot.



Charge distribution, Bipolar charging, Non-spherical particles, Aerosol classifiers, Homogeneous particle source

Journal Title

Journal of Aerosol Science

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Volume Title



Elsevier BV


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