Optical properties of the products of α-dicarbonyl and amine reactions in simulated cloud droplets

Kyle J. Zarzana, David O. De Haan, Miriam A. Freedman, Christa A. Hasenkopf, Margaret A. Tolbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Secondary organic aerosol makes up a significant fraction of the total aerosol mass, and a growing body of evidence indicates that reactions in the atmospheric aqueous phase are important contributors to aerosol formation and can help explain observations that cannot be accounted for using traditional gas-phase chemistry. In particular, aqueous phase reactions between small organic molecules have been proposed as a source of light absorbing compounds that have been observed in numerous locations. Past work has established that reactions between α-dicarbonyls and amines in evaporating water droplets produces particle-phase products that are brown in color. In the present study, the complex refractive indices of model secondary organic aerosol formed by aqueous phase reactions between the α-dicarbonyls glyoxal and methylglyoxal and the primary amines glycine and methylamine have been determined. The reaction products exhibit significant absorption in the visible, and refractive indices are similar to those for light absorbing species isolated from urban aerosol. However, the optical properties are different from the values used in models for secondary organic aerosol, which typically assume little to no absorption of visible light. As a result, the climatic cooling effect of such aerosols in models may be overestimated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4845-4851
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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