Gas-phase hydrocarbon autoxidation is a rapid pathway for the production of in situ aerosol precursor compounds. It is a highway to molecular growth and lowering of vapor pressure, and it produces hydrogen-bonding functional groups that allow a molecule to bind into a substrate. It is the crucial process in the formation and growth of atmospheric secondary organic aerosol (SOA). Recently, the rapid gas-phase autoxidation of several volatile organic compounds (VOC) has been shown to yield highly oxygenated organic molecules (HOM). Most of the details on HOM formation have been obtained from biogenic monoterpenes and their surrogates, with cyclic structures and double bonds both found to strongly facilitate HOM formation, especially in ozonolysis reactions. Similar structural features in common aromatic compounds have been observed to facilitate high HOM formation yields, despite the lack of appreciable O3 reaction rates. Similarly, the recently observed autoxidation and subsequent HOM formation in the oxidation of saturated hydrocarbons cannot be initiated by O3 and require different mechanistic steps for initiating and propagating the autoxidation sequence. This Perspective reflects on these recent findings in the context of the direct aerosol precursor formation in urban atmospheres.
Publication forum classification
- Publication forum level 1
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry