|Title||Sunlight can convert atmospheric aerosols into a glassy solid state and modify their environmental impacts|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2022|
|Authors||Baboomian, VJ, Crescenzo, GV, Huang, Y, Mahrt, F, Shiraiwa, M, Bertram, AK, Nizkorodov, SA|
|Journal||PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA|
|Date Published||OCT 2022|
Secondary organic aerosol (SOA) plays a critical, yet uncertain, role in air quality and climate. Once formed, SOA is transported throughout the atmosphere and is exposed to solar UV light. Information on the viscosity of SOA, and how it may change with solar UV exposure, is needed to accurately predict air quality and climate. However, the effect of solar UV radiation on the viscosity of SOA and the associated implications for air quality and climate predictions is largely unknown. Here, we report the viscosity of SOA after exposure to UV radiation, equivalent to a UV exposure of 6 to 14 d at midlatitudes in summer. Surprisingly, UV-aging led to as much as five orders of magnitude increase in viscosity compared to unirradiated SOA. This increase in viscosity can be rationalized in part by an increase in molecular mass and oxidation of organic molecules constituting the SOA material, as determined by high-resolution mass spectrometry. We demonstrate that UV-aging can lead to an increased abundance of aerosols in the atmosphere in a glassy solid state. Therefore, UV-aging could represent an unrecognized source of nuclei for ice clouds in the atmosphere, with important implications for Earth’s energy budget. We also show that UV-aging increases the mixing times within SOA particles by up to five orders of magnitude throughout the troposphere with important implications for predicting the growth, evaporation, and size distribution of SOA, and hence, air pollution and climate.