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CHARON Real-Time Aerosol Inlet System for PTR-TOFMS

Direct Sampling and Analysis of Atmospheric Particulate Organic Matter

An international team of researchers from the University of Innsbruck (Austria), the IRCELYON in Lyon (France) and the University of Oslo (Norway) recently studied the application of the new CHARON Particle Inlet to directly sample and analyze the chemical composition of atmospheric sub-µm particulate organic matter (POM) by PTR-TOFMS.

CHARON PTR-TOF 6000 X2 with two inlets in parallel for real-time VOC and particle analysis

By conducting laboratory based measurements of pure aerosolized substances the team could demonstrate the quantitative response of CHARON PTR-TOFMS to a range of typical POM substances down to single-digit ng m-3 mass concentrations. This quantitative response combined with the low selectivity of PTR-MS led to a good agreement in the detection of total urban POM in comparison with other state-of-the-art aerosol instrumentation. 

Atmospheric measurements in Lyon (France), Valencia (Spain) and Innsbruck (Austria) resulted in complex and clearly distinct POM mass spectra. Between 85 and 95% of the measured mass concentration could be assigned to a chemical composition (CxHyNzOkSl). Detected compounds ranged from pure aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons (e.g. pyrene) to highly functionalized oxygenated hydrocarbons (e.g. levoglucosan) of intermediate to low volatility. Data visualization in reduced-parameter frameworks (e.g. carbon oxidation state versus carbon number) revealed the gained analytical advantages by CHARON PTR-TOFMS.

Figure 2: Composition of organic particulate matter in Innsbruck, Austria.

The team also tested the application of Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) for apportioning sources of atmospheric particulate carbon in late autumn in Innsbruck, Austria. The conserved chemical compositions of known POM marker compounds significantly helped to assign and quantify sources from e.g. biomass burning, traffic, and even cigarette smoking.

The CHARON real-time inlet system for aerosol analysis with PTR-TOFMS has been developed for commercial release in close cooperation between the University of Innsbruck and IONICON. CHARON is now available for selected PTR-TOFMS instruments, exclusively from IONICON. Learn more on the CHARON product website.

Original Publication: Müller, M., Eichler, P., Tan, W., D’Anna, B., and Wisthaler, A.: Direct Sampling and Analysis of Atmospheric Particulate Organic Matter by Proton-Transfer-Reaction Mass Spectrometry, Analytical Chemistry, 2017.

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