Ozonolysis of mixed oleic acid/n-docosane particles: The roles of phase, morphology, and metastable states
The reaction kinetics of ozone with oleic acid (OA) in submicron particles containing n-docosane has been studied using aerosol CIMS (chemical ionization mass spectrometry) to monitor changes in particle composition. Internally mixed particles with X-OA > 0.72 were found to exist as supercooled droplets when cooled to room temperature. Partial reaction of the oleic acid was seen to completely inhibit further reaction and was attributed to the formation of a metastable solid rotator phase of the n-docosane at the surface. This reaction-induced phase change is believed to prevent further reaction by slowing ozone diffusion into the particle. When these particles were cooled to 0 degrees C before reaction, they reacted to a further extent and did not demonstrate such an inhibition. This shift in reactivity upon cooling is attributed to the formation of the thermodynamically stable form of n-docosane, the triclinic solid. This transition was accompanied by an increase in the n-docosane density, which led to the development of "cracks" through which ozone can diffuse into the particle. The aerosol with X-OA < 0.72 consisted of an external mixture of particles containing n-docosane in either the rotator or the triclinic solid phase because of the stochastic nature of the rotator -> triclinic transition. The reactivity of the oleic acid was seen to increase with increasing n-docosane content as a larger fraction of the particles underwent the rotator -> triclinic transition and therefore contained cracks at the surface. These findings demonstrate the importance of transient, metastable phases in determining particle morphology and how such morphological changes can influence rates of reactions in organic aerosols.