Particulate nitrate photolysis in the atmosphere

Masao Gen, Zhancong Liang, Ruifeng Zhang, Beatrix Rosette Go Mabato, Chak K. Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Multiphase and heterogeneous photochemistry is an emerging component of atmospheric and air pollution research. It is primarily driven by reactions of photochemically produced free radicals in the particle phase with dissolved gaseous species. It has significant implications to promote the oxidation of aerosol particles, one of the most important atmospheric processes for secondary inorganic and organic aerosol formation. Nitrate is an increasingly important component in atmospheric aerosol particles with the trend of dominating over sulfate. Nitrate photolysis has long been known to produce highly reactive oxidants such as hydroxyl radicals in both gas and bulk or cloud phases. Recent studies have found that nitrate photolysis in the particle phase (i.e., particulate nitrate photolysis) proceeds faster than bulk solutions or cloud droplets by many orders of magnitude. Factors and mechanisms affecting particulate nitrate photolysis include the formation of solvent cages, pH, and co-existing species, but they remain controversial. Hence, the impact of nitrate photolysis in atmospheric chemistry is still uncertain. This paper reviews the current status of knowledge about the effects of particulate nitrate photolysis, instead of relatively well-known gas- and bulk-phase nitrate photolysis, in the atmosphere. Recommendations for future research directions on the mechanistic understanding of particulate nitrate photolysis and its parameterizations in air quality models are also made.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-127
Number of pages17
JournalEnvironmental Science: Atmospheres
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jan 13


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