Real-time measurement of sodium in single aerosol particles by flame emission: Laboratory characterization

Catherine D. Clark, Pedro Campuzano-Jost, David S. Covert, Robert C. Richter, Hal Maring, Anthony J. Hynes, Eric S. Saltzman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


A flame emission aerosol sodium detector (ASD) has been developed to study the distribution of seasalt in individual marine aerosol droplets. The instrument detects sodium via D-line emission in a fuel-rich, laminar, hydrogen/oxygen/nitrogen flame. Laboratory studies with synthetic monodisperse aerosols were carried out in order to characterize the sensitivity, precision, and linearity of the technique. Experiments were also carried out with aerosols generated from mixed salt solutions and seawater in order to determine whether ionic or other matrix effects lead to interference. The ASD has a linear response function for NaCl aerosol particles from 100 nm to 2.0μm in diameter. The precision of sodium mass measurements is on the order of ±3% standard error on replicate measurements, with a quantitative response to the sodium content of a single aerosol particle that is independent of the chemical composition of the particle, i.e. anions, cations, seawater. No interferences were found with major ions in seawater and common atmospheric aerosols. These experiments demonstrate a detection limit equivalent to a 100 nm diameter dry 100% NaCl aerosol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)765-778
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Aerosol Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001


  • Marine aerosols
  • Sea salt
  • Single-particle analysis
  • Sodium flame emission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Pollution
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
  • Atmospheric Science


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