UBC Theses and Dissertations
Vibrational dynamics of icy aerosol particles : phase transitions and intrinsic particle properties Sigurbjornsson, Omar Freyr
Phase transitions and other intrinsic properties (shape, size, architecture) of molecularly structured aerosol particles are important for understanding their role in planetary atmospheres and for technical applications. By combining bath gas cooling with time resolved mid-infrared spectroscopy and modeling, information is obtained on dynamic processes and intrinsic properties of fluoroform and ethane aerosol particles. The distinct infrared spectral features of fluoroform aerosol particles make it a particularly suitable model system. Homogeneous crystallization rates of the sub-micron sized aerosol particles are determined (JV = 10⁸ - 10¹⁰ cm-³s-¹ or JS = 10³ – 10⁵ cm-²s-¹ at a temperature of T = 78 K), and the controversial question regarding volume versus surface nucleation in freezing aerosols is addressed. It is demonstrated that current state of the art measurements of droplet ensembles cannot distinguish between the two mechanisms due to inherent experimental uncertainties. The evolution of particle shape from spherical supercooled droplets to cube-like crystalline particles and eventually to elongated crystalline particles is recorded and analyzed in detail with the help of vibrational exciton model calculations. Phase behaviour of pure ethane aerosols and ethane aerosols formed in the presence of other ice nuclei under conditions mimicking Titan’s atmosphere provide evidence for the formation of supercooled liquid ethane aerosol droplets, which subsequently crystallize. The observed homogeneous freezing rates (JV = 10⁷ – 10⁹ cm-³s-¹) imply that supercooled ethane could play a similar role in ethane rich regions of Titan’s atmosphere as supercooled water does in the Earth’s atmosphere.
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