Cloud droplet activation mechanisms of amino acid aerosol particles: insight from molecular dynamics simulations
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Atmospheric amino acids constitute a large fraction of water-soluble organic nitrogen compounds in aerosol particles, and have been confirmed as effective cloud condensation nuclei materials in laboratory experiments. We here present a molecular dynamics study of six amino acids with different structures and chemical properties that are relevant to the remote marine atmospheric aerosol-cloud system, with the aim to investigate the detailed mechanism of their induced changes in surface activity and surface tension, which are important properties for cloud drop activation. Distributions and orientations of the amino acid molecules are studied; these L-amino acids are serine, glycine, alanine, valine, methionine and phenylalanine and are categorized as hydrophilic and hydrophobic according to their affinities to water. The results suggest that the presence of surface-concentrated hydrophobic amino acid molecules give rise to enhanced Lennard-Jones repulsion, which in turn results in decreased surface tension of a planar interface but an increased surface tension of the spherical interface of droplets with diameters below 10 nm. The observed surface tension perturbation for the different amino acids under study not only serves as benchmark for future studies of more complex systems, but also shows that hydrophobic amino acids are surface active. The molecular dynamics simulations used in this study reproduce experimental results of surface tension measurements for planar interfaces and the method is therefore applicable for spherical interfaces of nano-size for which experimental measurements are not possible to conduct.
amino acids, molecular dynamics, aerosol, surface tension
Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences
Research subject Atmospheric Sciences and Oceanography
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-83218OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-83218DiVA: diva2:574532