Rapid Measurement of Sub-Micrometer Aerosol Size Distribution using a Fast Integrated Mobility Spectrometer


Rapid measurement of submicron particle size distributions enables the characterization of aerosols with fast changing properties, and is often necessary for measurements onboard mobile platforms (e.g., research aircraft). Aerosol mobility size distribution is commonly measured by a scanning mobility particle sizer (SMPS), which relies on voltage scanning or stepping to classify particles of different sizes, and may take about 1 minute or longer to obtain a complete size spectrum of aerosol particles. The recently developed fast integrated mobility spectrometer (FIMS) with enhanced dynamic size range separates and detects particles from 10 to ~600 nm simultaneously, allowing submicron aerosol mobility size distributions to be captured at a time resolution of 1 s. In this study, we present a detailed data inversion routine for deriving aerosol size distribution from FIMS measurements of aerosols with a wide size range. The inversion routine takes into consideration the FIMS transfer function, particle penetration efficiency in the FIMS, and multiple charging of aerosols. The accuracy of the FIMS measurement is demonstrated by comparing parallel FIMS and SMPS measurements of stable aerosols with a wide range of size spectrum shapes, including ambient aerosols and aerosols classified by a differential mobility analyzer (DMA). The FIMS and SMPS-derived size distributions show excellent agreements for all aerosols tested. In addition, total number concentrations of ambient aerosols were integrated from 1 Hz FIMS size distributions, and compared with those directly measured by a condensation particle counter (CPC) operated in parallel. The integrated and measured total particle concentrations agree well within 6.5%.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering


This work was supported by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Small Business Technology Grants DE-SC0006312 and DE-SC0013103.

Keywords and Phrases

Fighter aircraft; Particle size; Shape memory effect; Size distribution; Spectrometers; Aerosol size distributions; Condensation particle counters; Differential mobility analyzers; Fast integrated mobility spectrometer; Particle concentrations; Particle penetration; Scanning mobility particle sizer; Total number concentrations; Aerosols; Accuracy assessment; aerosol; Aerosol property; Instrumentation; Measurement method; Particle size; Size distribution; Spectrometer; Transfer function; Aerosol; Aircraft; Article; Boundary layer; Comparative study; Cooling; Diagnostic accuracy; Humidity; Laboratory test; Particle size; Plume; Precipitation; Priority journal; Room temperature

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Article - Journal

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© 2018 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jul 2018