Thursday, April 30, 2015

Variabilities and uncertainties in characterising water transport kinetics in glassy and ultraviscous aerosol

Andrew M. J. Rickards, Young-Chul Song, Rachael E. H. Miles, Thomas C. Preston and Jonathan P. Reid

We present a comprehensive evaluation of the variabilities and uncertainties present in determining the kinetics of water transport in ultraviscous aerosol droplets, alongside new measurements of the water transport timescale in sucrose aerosol. Measurements are performed on individual droplets captured using aerosol optical tweezers and the change in particle size during water evaporation or condensation is inferred from shifts in the wavelength of the whispering gallery mode peaks at which spontaneous Raman scattering is enhanced. The characteristic relaxation timescale (τ) for condensation or evaporation of water from viscous droplets following a change in gas phase relative humidity can be described by the Kohlrausch–Williams–Watts function. To adequately characterise the water transport kinetics and determine τ, sufficient time must be allowed for the particle to progress towards the final state. However, instabilities in the environmental conditions can prevent an accurate characterisation of the kinetics over such long time frames. Comparison with established thermodynamic and diffusional water transport models suggests the determination of τ is insensitive to the choice of thermodynamic treatment. We report excellent agreement between experimental and simulated evaporation timescales, and investigate the scaling of τ with droplet radius. A clear increase in τ is observed for condensation with increase in drying (wait) time. This trend is qualitatively supported by model simulations.

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