Diffusion sampler for measurement of acidic ultrafine particles in the atmosphere

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1236-1246
Journal / PublicationAerosol Science and Technology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


The adverse health effect of acidic ultrafine particles (AUFPs) has been widely recognized in scientific societies. These particles mainly deposit on the surface by diffusion and so far there is no mature method for the measurement of airborne AUFPs. The purpose of this study was to develop a diffusion sampler (DS) with iron nanofilm detectors to effectively measure the number concentration and size distribution of airborne AUFPs in indoor and outdoor environments. The developed DS was made of stainless steel with a flat and rectangular channel with 1.0 mm height, 50 mm width, and 500 mm length. The iron nanofilm detectors were deployed on rectangular recesses inside the sampler at three different locations along the length of the channel to collect the ultrafine particles. The exposed detectors were then scanned using an atomic force microscope (AFM) to numerate and distinguish the AUFPs from the nonacidic UFPs. Prior to sampling, the semi-empirical equations for the diffusive deposition efficiency of particles at the different detector locations in the sampler were obtained on the basis of theoretical diffusive mechanism and modified by the experimental data using polystyrene latex (PSL) standard particles. After calibration, the DS + AFM method and a commercially available online measurement system, i.e., scanning mobility particle sizer (SMPS) incorporated with a condensation particle counter (CPC), were simultaneously used in a 4-week field measurement. Both methods showed very good agreement in terms of total particle number concentration and size distribution. The results indicate that the diffusion sampler is effective for the quantification of ambient acidic ultrafine particles.