Theo Kurtén

University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Southern Finland Province, Finland

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Publications (94)389.85 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Models of formation and growth of atmospheric aerosols are highly dependent on accurate cluster binding energies. These are most often calculated by ab initio electronic structure methods but remain associated with significant uncertainties. We present a computational benchmarking study of the Gibbs free binding energies in molecular complexes and clusters based on gas phase FTIR spectroscopy. The acetonitrile-HCl molecular complex is identified via its redshifted H-Cl stretching vibrational mode. We determine the Gibbs free binding energy, ΔG°295 K, to between 4.8 and 7.9 kJ mol(-1) and compare this range to predictions from several widely used electronic structure methods, including five density functionals, Møller-Plesset perturbation theory, and five coupled cluster methods up to CCSDT quality, considering also the D3 dispersion correctional scheme. With some exceptions, we find that most electronic structure methods overestimate ΔG°295 K. The effects of vibrational anharmonicity is approximated using scaling factors, reducing ΔG°295 K by ca. 1.8 kJ mol(-1), whereby ΔG°295 K predictions well within the experimental range can be obtained.
    The journal of physical chemistry. A. 07/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: A High-Resolution Time-of-Flight Chemical-Ionization Mass Spectrometer (HR-ToF-CIMS) using Iodide-adducts has been characterized and deployed in several laboratory and field studies to measure a suite of organic and inorganic atmospheric species. The large negative mass defect of Iodide, combined with soft ionization and the high mass-accuracy (< 20 ppm) and mass-resolving power (R > 5500) of the time-of-flight mass spectrometer, provides an additional degree of separation and allows for the determination of elemental compositions for the vast majority of detected ions. Laboratory characterization reveals Iodide-adduct ionization generally exhibits increasing sensitivity towards more polar or acidic volatile organic compounds. Simultaneous retrieval of a wide range of mass-to-charge ratios (m/Q from 25 to 625 Th) at a high frequency (> 1 Hz) provides a comprehensive view of atmospheric oxidative chemistry, particularly when sampling rapidly-evolving plumes from fast moving platforms like an aircraft. We present the sampling protocol, detection limits and observations from the first aircraft deployment for an instrument of this type, which took place aboard the NOAA WP-3D aircraft during the Southeast Nexus (SENEX) 2013 field campaign.
    Environmental Science & Technology 05/2014; · 5.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Formation of new particles through clustering of molecules from condensable vapors is a significant source for atmospheric aerosols. The smallest clusters formed in the very first steps of the condensation process are, however, not directly observable by experimental means. We present here a comprehensive series of electronic structure calculations on the hydrates of clusters formed by up to four molecules of sulfuric acid, and up to two molecules of ammonia or dimethylamine. Though clusters containing ammonia, and certainly dimethylamine, generally exhibit lower average hydration than the pure acid clusters, populations of individual hydrates vary widely. Furthermore, we explore the predictions obtained using a thermodynamic model for the description of these hydrates. The similar magnitude and trends of hydrate formation predicted by both methods illustrate the potential of combining them to obtain more comprehensive models. The stabilization of some clusters relative to others due to their hydration is highly likely to have significant effects on the overall processes that lead to formation of new particles in the atmosphere.
    The Journal of Physical Chemistry A 03/2014; · 2.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Forests emit large quantities of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to the atmosphere. Their condensable oxidation products can form secondary organic aerosol, a significant and ubiquitous component of atmospheric aerosol, which is known to affect the Earth's radiation balance by scattering solar radiation and by acting as cloud condensation nuclei. The quantitative assessment of such climate effects remains hampered by a number of factors, including an incomplete understanding of how biogenic VOCs contribute to the formation of atmospheric secondary organic aerosol. The growth of newly formed particles from sizes of less than three nanometres up to the sizes of cloud condensation nuclei (about one hundred nanometres) in many continental ecosystems requires abundant, essentially non-volatile organic vapours, but the sources and compositions of such vapours remain unknown. Here we investigate the oxidation of VOCs, in particular the terpene α-pinene, under atmospherically relevant conditions in chamber experiments. We find that a direct pathway leads from several biogenic VOCs, such as monoterpenes, to the formation of large amounts of extremely low-volatility vapours. These vapours form at significant mass yield in the gas phase and condense irreversibly onto aerosol surfaces to produce secondary organic aerosol, helping to explain the discrepancy between the observed atmospheric burden of secondary organic aerosol and that reported by many model studies. We further demonstrate how these low-volatility vapours can enhance, or even dominate, the formation and growth of aerosol particles over forested regions, providing a missing link between biogenic VOCs and their conversion to aerosol particles. Our findings could help to improve assessments of biosphere-aerosol-climate feedback mechanisms, and the air quality and climate effects of biogenic emissions generally.
    Nature 02/2014; 506(7489):476-9. · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We used quantum chemical formation free energies of hydrated sulfuric acid-containing molecular clusters and a dynamic model to simulate a flow tube measurement, and determined the effective diffusion coefficient of sulfuric acid as a function of relative humidity. This type of measurement was performed by Hanson and Eisele, who presented and applied a fitting method to obtain equilibrium constants K 1 and K 2 for the formation of sulfuric acid mono- and dihydrates, respectively, from the experimentally determined diffusion coefficients. The fit is derived assuming that only H2SO4 molecules hydrated by up to two water molecules are present. To study the sensitivity of the results to this assumption, we implemented the same fit to the modeled diffusion coefficient data, computed including also larger H2SO4 hydrates with more than two waters. We show that according to quantum chemical equilibrium constants, the larger hydrates are likely to be present in nonnegligible amounts, which affects the effective diffusion coefficient. This results in the fitted value obtained for K 1 being lower and for K 2 being higher than the actual values. The results are further altered if contaminant base molecules, such as amines, capable of binding to H2SO4 molecules, are able to enter the system, for example, with the water vapor. The magnitude and direction of the effect of the contaminants depends not only on the contaminant concentration, but also on the H2SO4 concentration and on the hygroscopicity of the H2SO4–base clusters.Copyright 2014 American Association for Aerosol Research
    Aerosol Science and Technology 01/2014; 48(6). · 2.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Oxidation processes in Earth's atmosphere are tightly connected to many environmental and human health issues and are essential drivers for biogeochemistry. Until the recent discovery of the atmospheric relevance of stabilized Criegee intermediates (sCI), atmospheric oxidation processes were thought to be dominated by few main oxidants: ozone, hydroxyl radicals (OH), nitrate radicals and, e.g. over oceans, halogen atoms such as chlorine. Here, we report results from laboratory experiments at 293 K and atmospheric pressure focusing on sCI formation from the ozonolysis of isoprene and the most abundant monoterpenes (α-pinene and limonene), and subsequent reactions of the resulting sCIs with SO2 producing sulphuric acid (H2SO4). The measured sCI yields were (0.15 ± 0.07), (0.27 ± 0.12) and (0.58 ± 0.26) for the ozonolysis of α-pinene, limonene and isoprene, respectively. The ratio between the rate coefficient for the sCI loss (including thermal decomposition and the reaction with water vapour) and the rate coefficient for the reaction of sCI with SO2, k(loss) / k(sCI + SO2), was determined at relative humidities of 10% and 50%. Observed values represent the average reactivity of all sCIs produced from the individual alkene used in the ozonolysis. For the monoterpene derived sCIs, the relative rate coefficients k(loss) / k(sCI + SO2) were in the range (2.0-2.4) × 1012 molecule cm-3 and nearly independent on the relative humidity. This fact points to a minor importance of the sCI + H2O reaction in the case of the sCI arising from α-pinene and limonene. For the isoprene sCIs, however, the ratio k(loss) / k(sCI + SO2) was strongly dependent on the relative humidity. To explore whether sCIs could have a more general role in atmospheric oxidation, we investigated as an example the reactivity of acetone oxide (sCI from the ozonolysis of 2,3-dimethyl-2-butene) toward small organic acids, i.e. formic and acetic acid. Acetone oxide was found to react faster with the organic acids than with SO2; k(sCI + acid) / k(sCI + SO2) = (2.8 ± 0.3) for formic acid and k(sCI + acid) / k(sCI + SO2) = (3.4 ± 0.2) for acetic acid. This finding suggests that sCIs can play a role in the formation and loss of several atmospheric constituents besides SO2.
    12/2013; 14(2).
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    ABSTRACT: Sulfuric acid clusters stabilized by base molecules are likely to have a significant role in atmospheric new particle formation. Recent advances in mass spectrometry techniques have permitted the detection of electrically charged clusters. However, direct measurement of electrically neutral clusters is not possible. Mass spectrometry instruments can be combined with a charger, but the possible effect of charging on the composition of neutral clusters must be addressed before the measured data can be linked to properties of neutral clusters. In the present work we have used formation free energies from quantum chemical methods to calculate the evaporation rates of electrically charged (both positive and negative) sulfuric acid-ammonia/dimethylamine clusters. To understand how charging will affect the composition of these clusters, we have compared the evaporation rates of charged clusters with those of the corresponding neutral clusters. We found that the only cluster studied in this paper which will retain its composition is H2SO4 · NH3 when charged positively; all other clusters will be altered by both positive and negative charging. In the case of charging clusters negatively, base molecules will completely evaporate from clusters with 1 to 3 sulfuric acid molecules in the case of ammonia, and from clusters with 1 or 2 sulfuric acid molecules in the case of dimethylamine. Larger clusters will maintain some base molecules, but the H2SO4 : base ratio will increase. In the case of positive charging, some of the acid molecules will evaporate, decreasing the H2SO4 : base ratio.
    12/2013; 14(2).
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    ABSTRACT: Quantum chemical calculations have been performed on negatively charged nitric acid - sulfuric acid - dimethylamine clusters. The cluster energies were combined with a kinetic model to study the chemical ionization of sulfuric acid molecules and sulfuric acid - dimethylamine clusters with nitrate ions. Both the sulfuric acid monomer and the H2SO4·(CH3)2NH cluster get ionized, but the cluster has a much higher dipole moment, and thus a higher collision rate with charger ions. Clustering of sulfuric acid with bases will therefore increase its detection probability in the CIMS, instead of decreasing it as has been suggested previously. However, our comparison of different quantum chemical methods shows some uncertainty on the extent of sulfuric acid-dimethylamine cluster formation in typical ambient conditions, and no experimental data is available for comparison. Apart from affecting CIMS measurements, the degree of clustering is directly linked to the formation rate of larger clusters, and needs to be quantified in order to understand atmospheric new-particle formation. Based on the different charging efficiencies of the monomer and the cluster, a method is proposed for determining experimentally the binding energies of H2SO4·base clusters by measuring the extent of cluster formation as a function of base concentration.
    The Journal of Physical Chemistry A 12/2013; · 2.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Atmospheric aerosols formed by nucleation of vapors affect radiative forcing and therefore climate. However, the underlying mechanisms of nucleation remain unclear, particularly the involvement of organic compounds. Here, we present high-resolution mass spectra of ion clusters observed during new particle formation experiments performed at the Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets chamber at the European Organization for Nuclear Research. The experiments involved sulfuric acid vapor and different stabilizing species, including ammonia and dimethylamine, as well as oxidation products of pinanediol, a surrogate for organic vapors formed from monoterpenes. A striking resemblance is revealed between the mass spectra from the chamber experiments with oxidized organics and ambient data obtained during new particle formation events at the Hyytiälä boreal forest research station. We observe that large oxidized organic compounds, arising from the oxidation of monoterpenes, cluster directly with single sulfuric acid molecules and then form growing clusters of one to three sulfuric acid molecules plus one to four oxidized organics. Most of these organic compounds retain 10 carbon atoms, and some of them are remarkably highly oxidized (oxygen-to-carbon ratios up to 1.2). The average degree of oxygenation of the organic compounds decreases while the clusters are growing. Our measurements therefore connect oxidized organics directly, and in detail, with the very first steps of new particle formation and their growth between 1 and 2 nm in a controlled environment. Thus, they confirm that oxidized organics are involved in both the formation and growth of particles under ambient conditions.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 10/2013; · 9.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Nucleation of aerosol particles from trace atmospheric vapours is thought to provide up to half of global cloud condensation nuclei. Aerosols can cause a net cooling of climate by scattering sunlight and by leading to smaller but more numerous cloud droplets, which makes clouds brighter and extends their lifetimes. Atmospheric aerosols derived from human activities are thought to have compensated for a large fraction of the warming caused by greenhouse gases. However, despite its importance for climate, atmospheric nucleation is poorly understood. Recently, it has been shown that sulphuric acid and ammonia cannot explain particle formation rates observed in the lower atmosphere. It is thought that amines may enhance nucleation, but until now there has been no direct evidence for amine ternary nucleation under atmospheric conditions. Here we use the CLOUD (Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets) chamber at CERN and find that dimethylamine above three parts per trillion by volume can enhance particle formation rates more than 1,000-fold compared with ammonia, sufficient to account for the particle formation rates observed in the atmosphere. Molecular analysis of the clusters reveals that the faster nucleation is explained by a base-stabilization mechanism involving acid-amine pairs, which strongly decrease evaporation. The ion-induced contribution is generally small, reflecting the high stability of sulphuric acid-dimethylamine clusters and indicating that galactic cosmic rays exert only a small influence on their formation, except at low overall formation rates. Our experimental measurements are well reproduced by a dynamical model based on quantum chemical calculations of binding energies of molecular clusters, without any fitted parameters. These results show that, in regions of the atmosphere near amine sources, both amines and sulphur dioxide should be considered when assessing the impact of anthropogenic activities on particle formation.
    Nature 10/2013; · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The first step in atmospheric new particle formation involves the aggregation of gas phase molecules into small molecular clusters that can grow by colliding with gas molecules and each other. In this work we used first principles quantum chemistry combined with a dynamic model to study the steady-state kinetics of sets of small clusters consisting of sulfuric acid and ammonia or sulfuric acid and dimethylamine molecules. Both sets were studied with and without electrically charged clusters. We show the main clustering pathways in the simulated systems together with the quantum chemical Gibbs free energies of formation of the growing clusters. In the sulfuric acid-ammonia system, the major growth pathways exhibit free energy barriers, whereas in the acid-dimethylamine system the growth occurs mainly via barrierless condensation. When ions are present, charged clusters contribute significantly to the growth in the acid-ammonia system. For dimethylamine the role of ions is minor, except at very low acid concentration, and the growing clusters are electrically neutral.
    The Journal of Chemical Physics 08/2013; 139(8):084312. · 3.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Quantum chemical calculations have been performed on neutral and protonated acetone and protonated acetone containing clusters. The aim is to probe the ability of protonated acetone and protonated acetone clusters to charge clusters containing sulfuric acid and amines.
    05/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: We have used a quantum chemical method to calculate the formation free energies of negatively charged sulfuric acid - ammonia and sulfuric acid - dimethylamine clusters. Using the calculated formation free energies we have estimated the evaporation rates of the clusters. We have compared the evaporation rate of the charged clusters with the corresponding neutral clusters. We found that, although small clusters of sulfuric acid with ammonia and dimethylamine are stable and should be present in the atmosphere, they can not be detected using mass spectroscopy techniques. Charging the cluster will result in the fast evaporation of the base molecules, and they will be detected as pure sulfuric acid cluster.
    05/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: The formation of hydrates of small molecular sulfuric acid clusters and cluster containing both sulfuric acid and base (ammonia or dimethylamine) has been studied by means of computational chemistry. Using a combined ab initio/density functional approach, formation energies of clusters with up to four sulfuric acid molecules, and up to two base molecules, have been calculated. Consequences for the hydration level of the corresponding clusters have been modelled. While the majority of pure sulfuric acid cluster are comparatively strongly hydrated, base containing cluster were found to be less hydrophilic. Dimethylamine is particularly effective in lowering the hydrophilicity of the cluster. Implications of the hydration profiles on atmospheric processes are discussed.
    05/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Despite the importance of atmospheric particle formation for both climate and air quality, both experiments and non-empirical models using e.g. sulfuric acid, ammonia and water as condensing vapors have so far been unable to reproduce atmospheric observations using realistic trace gas concentrations. Recent experimental and theoretical evidence has shown that this mystery is likely resolved by amines. Combining first-principles evaporation rates for sulfuric acid - dimethylamine clusters with cluster kinetic modeling, we show that even sub-ppt concentrations of amines, together with atmospherically realistic concentrations of sulfuric acid, result in formation rates close to those observed in the atmosphere. Our simulated cluster formation rates are also close to, though somewhat larger than, those measured at the CLOUD experiment in CERN for both sulfuric acid - ammonia and sulfuric acid - dimethylamine systems. A sensitivity analysis indicates that the remaining discrepancy for the sulfuric acid - amine particle formation rates is likely caused by steric hindrances to cluster formation (due to alkyl groups of the amine molecules) rather than by significant errors in the evaporation rates. First-principles molecular dynamic and reaction kinetic modeling shed further light on the microscopic physics and chemistry of sulfuric acid - amine clusters. For example, while the number and type of hydrogen bonds in the clusters typically reach their equilibrium values on a picosecond timescale, and the overall bonding patterns predicted by traditional "static" quantum chemical calculations seem to be stable, the individual atoms participating in the hydrogen bonds continuously change at atmospherically realistic temperatures. From a chemical reactivity perspective, we have also discovered a surprising phenomenon: clustering with sulfuric acid molecules slightly increases the activation energy required for the abstraction of alkyl hydrogens from amine molecules. This implies that the oxidation rate of amines by OH and possibly other oxidants may be decreased by clustering, thus prolonging the chemical lifetime of amines in the air.
    04/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: No abstract available.
    ATMOSPHERIC CHEMISTRY AND PHYSICS 03/2013; 13(6):3321-3327. · 5.51 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Atmospheric nucleation is the dominant source of aerosol particles in the global atmosphere and an important player in aerosol climatic effects. The key steps of this process occur in the sub-2-nanometer (nm) size range, in which direct size-segregated observations have not been possible until very recently. Here, we present detailed observations of atmospheric nanoparticles and clusters down to 1-nm mobility diameter. We identified three separate size regimes below 2-nm diameter that build up a physically, chemically, and dynamically consistent framework on atmospheric nucleation--more specifically, aerosol formation via neutral pathways. Our findings emphasize the important role of organic compounds in atmospheric aerosol formation, subsequent aerosol growth, radiative forcing and associated feedbacks between biogenic emissions, clouds, and climate.
    Science 02/2013; 339(6122):943-6. · 31.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Formation of secondary atmospheric aerosol particles starts with gas phase molecules forming small molecular clusters. High-resolution mass spectrometry enables the detection and chemical characterization of electrically charged clusters from the molecular scale upward, whereas the experimental detection of electrically neutral clusters, especially as a chemical composition measurement, down to 1 nm in diameter and beyond still remains challenging. In this work we simulated a set of both electrically neutral and charged small molecular clusters, consisting of sulfuric acid and ammonia molecules, with a dynamic collision and evaporation model. Collision frequencies between the clusters were calculated according to classical kinetics, and evaporation rates were derived from first principles quantum chemical calculations with no fitting parameters. We found a good agreement between the modeled steady-state concentrations of negative cluster ions and experimental results measured with the state-of-the-art Atmospheric Pressure interface Time-Of-Flight mass spectrometer (APi-TOF) in the CLOUD chamber experiments at CERN. The model can be used to interpret experimental results and give information on neutral clusters that cannot be directly measured.
    Faraday Discussions 01/2013; 165:75-89. · 3.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We have investigated the reaction of the one-carbon stabilized Criegee intermediate (H2COO, formaldehyde oxide) with ozone, theoretically, using high level coupled cluster ab initio methods. Key to the reactivity of the Criegee intermediate with ozone is the strongly exothermic formation of an intermediate consisting of five oxygen and one carbon atoms (H2CO5) in a six-membered ring structure. This intermediate proceeds via a spin-allowed route over two transition states with low energy barriers to form molecular oxygen and formaldehyde. The reaction may contribute to the loss of these biradicals in the atmosphere.
    Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters 01/2013; 4(15):2525-2529. · 6.59 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: University of d an error in our paper "From quantum chemical formation free energies to s" by I.K. Ortega et al. (Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 225–235, 2012). We have the single point energy calculation for the (H 2 OS 4) 2 ((CH 3) 2 NH) 2 cluster was he electronic energy used in the paper was -1047222.51 kcal/mol, the correct 18.44 kcal/mol, and thus the stability of the cluster was overestimated by 4.07 onformer that was reported to be the most stable is not actually the most stable. the structure of the most stable conformer after correcting the error. st stable (H 2 OS 4) 2 ((CH 3) 2 NH) 2 cluster structure, Yellow, red, white, blue, and s represent sulfur, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and carbon atoms, respectively.
    Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 01/2013; 13(12):3321-3327. · 5.51 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

469 Citations
389.85 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2005–2014
    • University of Helsinki
      • • Department of Chemistry
      • • Department of Physics
      • • Department of Physical Sciences
      Helsinki, Southern Finland Province, Finland
  • 2010–2012
    • University of Copenhagen
      • Department of Chemistry
      Copenhagen, Capital Region, Denmark
    • IT University of Copenhagen
      København, Capital Region, Denmark