Wetting properties of fresh urban soot particles: Evaluation based on critical supersaturation and observation of surface trace materials

Sayako Ueda, Tatsuhiro Mori, Yoko Iwamoto, Yuta Ushikubo, Kazuhiko Miura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Soot particles strongly absorb solar radiation and contribute to global warming. Also, wetting properties of soot at emission can affect its lifetime. We investigated surface conditions related to wetting and hydrophobic properties of fresh soot using data from measurements taken in Tokyo. A cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) counter was used to clarify surface conditions of particles composed mainly of water-insoluble (WI) materials: total and active particles as CCN around critical supersaturation (Sc) of 203-nm-diameter WI particles. Averaged number fractions of inactivated particles as CCN at 1.05% supersaturation (SS), which is Sc of hydrophilic WI particles, were estimated as 1.4%. Number fractions of inactive particles changed less at 1.78%SS during rush hour and increased at 0.89%SS, implying that most of the WI particles included small amounts of water-soluble (WS) materials rather than being completely hydrophobic. Based on transmission electron microscope (TEM) analysis of samples collected during rush hour, 69% of the mostly bare soot particles had Na or K small domains that are regarded as originating in fossil fuels. Based on water dialysis analysis results, some Na and K on soot were WS. Combination results with CCN measurements suggest that these WS materials decrease the Sc of soot. Moreover, the morphological structure of sulfate covering Na and K domains on the soot surface implicates pre-existing sodium and potassium compounds on soot as a trigger of soot aging. However, inactive particles at Sc at poor-hydrophilic particles and soot particles composed solely of WI materials on TEM samples were also found, although they were minor. Such particles, which are unfavorable for obtaining a wettable surface, might retain non-hygroscopicity for a longer period in the atmosphere. Evaluation of long-range soot transport can benefit from consideration of slight and inhomogeneous differences of chemical compounds on soot that occur along with their emission.

Original languageEnglish
Article number152274
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Mar 10
Externally publishedYes


  • Atmospheric aerosols
  • Black carbon
  • Contact angle
  • Microscopic analysis
  • Particle morphology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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