The oxidation of aromatics contributes significantly to the formation of atmospheric aerosol. Using toluene as an example, we demonstrate the existence of a molecular rearrangement channel in the oxidation mechanism. Based on both flow reactor experiments and quantum chemical calculations, we show that the bicyclic peroxy radicals (BPRs) formed in OH-initiated aromatic oxidation are much less stable than previously thought, and in the case of the toluene derived ipso-BPRs, lead to aerosol-forming low-volatility products with up to 9 oxygen atoms on sub-second timescales. Similar results are predicted for ipso-BPRs formed from many other aromatic compounds. This reaction class is likely a key route for atmospheric aerosol formation, and including the molecular rearrangement of BPRs may be vital for accurate chemical modeling of the atmosphere.
Publication forum classification
- Publication forum level 3
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)