The ability of aerosol particles to uptake water (hygroscopic growth) is an important determinant of aerosol optical properties and radiative effects. Aerosol hygroscopic growth is traditionally measured by humidified tandem differential mobility analyzers (HTDMA), in which size-selected dry particles are exposed to elevated relative humidity (RH), and the size distribution of humidified particles is subsequently measured using a scanning mobility particle sizer. As a scanning mobility particle sizer can measure only one particle size at a time, HTDMA measurements are time consuming, and ambient measurements are often limited to a single RH level. Pinterich et al. (2017b) showed that fast measurements of aerosol hygroscopic growth are possible using a humidity-controlled fast integrated mobility spectrometer (HFIMS). In HFIMS, the size distribution of humidified particles is rapidly captured by a water-based fast integrated mobility spectrometer (WFIMS), leading to a factor of g1/410 increase in measurement time resolution. In this study we present a prototype HFIMS that extends fast hygroscopic growth measurements to a wide range of atmospherically relevant RH values, allowing for more comprehensive characterizations of aerosol hygroscopic growth. A dual-channel humidifier consisting of two humidity conditioners in parallel is employed such that aerosol RH can be quickly stepped among different RH levels by sampling from alternating conditioners. The measurement sequence is also optimized to minimize the transition time between different particle sizes. The HFIMS is capable of measuring aerosol hygroscopic growth of six particle diameters under five RH levels ranging from 20g% to 85g% (30 separate measurements) every 25gmin. The performance of this HFIMS is characterized and validated using laboratory-generated ammonium sulfate aerosol standards. Measurements of ambient aerosols are shown to demonstrate the capability of HFIMS to capture the rapid evolution of aerosol hygroscopic growth and its dependence on both size and RH.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering


This research has been supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Small Business Innovative Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (grant nos. DE-SC0013103 and DE-SC0006312).

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1867-8548; 1867-1381

Document Type

Article - Journal

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Final Version

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Publication Date

18 Aug 2021