European On-Line Particle Mass Spectrometry


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An international workshop on European On-line Particle Mass Spectrometry (PMS) was held 29th-30th of November 2005 at the JRC in Ispra, Italy. The main goals of the Workshop were:

1) To get together all European scientists involved in the field of PMS

2) To review the latest scientific progress on the field of PMS, with particular emphasis on:
a. New instrumentations
b. Data analysis
c. Main findings on atmospheric aerosols

3) To understand future directions of PMS, with particular emphasis on:
a. New techniques
b. Joint field / laboratory studies

The workshop was jointly funded by ACCENT as part of the activity Access to Infrastructures, and the JRC, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Climate Change Unit, Ispra, Italy. It was co-organized by JRC-Ispra and the University of Birmingham, Division of Environmental Health and Risk Management, UK. ACCENT is a network of excellence whose goals are to promote a common European strategy for research on atmospheric composition change.

Instruments for on-line mass spectrometric analysis of individual particles have been under development in the last three decades (laser based instruments since the 1990's). In the most recent years, they have become important tools for studies of atmospheric chemistry, both for observations of ambient aerosols as well as in laboratory studies of aerosol-related chemical and physical processes. Single-particle analysis has the great advantage of providing information about the mixing state of aerosols. The mixing state has important implications for their physico-chemical properties and thus for the impacts of aerosols, e.g. on climate. Such information is also useful for source apportionment.

The instruments currently available for particle mass spectrometry typically involve a sizing procedure followed by a (thermal or laser-induced) desorption step, a (laser, thermal, electron impact or chemical) ionisation step and finally detection of the ions by time-of-flight or quadropole mass spectrometry. Several research teams in Europe (as well as in the US) are working on the characterization and technical improvements of these instruments as well as on exploitation of their potential applications.

Most of the existing instruments belong to one out of two categories: One is represented by the Aerosol Mass Spectrometer (manufactured by Aerodyne, Inc.), where particles in a narrow size-range are vaporized on a hot surface and then ionised by electron impact; the ions are analyzed by a quadropole or a time-of-flight mass spectrometer. The other type is laser-based; particles are detected and sized in a laser-velocimeter followed by laser-desorption-ionization (LDI) and then analyzed with a time-of flight mass spectrometer (a commercial version, the ATOFMS, is manufactured by TSI, Inc.).

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