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Cloud droplet activation mechanisms of amino acid aerosol particles: insight from molecular dynamics simulations
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Meteorology .
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Meteorology .
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2013 (English)In: Tellus. Series B, Chemical and physical meteorology, ISSN 0280-6509, E-ISSN 1600-0889, Vol. 65, 65- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

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 (CCN) materials in laboratory experiments. We present a molecular dynamics (MD) 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 of investigating 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 (SER), glycine (GLY), alanine (ALA), valine (VAL), methionine (MET) and phenylalanine (PHE) and are categorised as hydrophilic and amphiphilic according to their affinities to water. The results suggest that the presence of surface-concentrated amphiphilic amino acid molecules give rise to enhanced Lennard-Jones repulsion, which in turn results in decreased surface tension of a planar interface and 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 amphiphilic amino acids are surface active. The MD 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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 65, 65- p.
Keyword [en]
amino acid, aerosol particles, cloud condensation, surface tension, growth factor, molecular dynamics
National Category
Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-93206DOI: 10.3402/tellusb.v65i0.20476ISI: 000322577900001OAI: diva2:645498


Available from: 2013-09-04 Created: 2013-09-04 Last updated: 2013-09-04Bibliographically approved

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Hede, ThomasLeck, Caroline
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