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Insights into the Chemistry of Iodine New Particle Formation: The Role of Iodine Oxides and the Source of Iodic Acid

Juan Carlos Gómez Martín, Thomas R. Lewis, Alexander D. James, Alfonso Saiz-Lopez and John M. C. Plane

J. Am. Chem. Soc.,


Iodine chemistry is an important driver of new particle formation in the marine and polar boundary layers. There are, however, conflicting views about how iodine gas-to-particle conversion proceeds. Laboratory studies indicate that the photooxidation of iodine produces iodine oxides (IxOy), which are well-known particle precursors. By contrast, nitrate anion chemical ionization mass spectrometry (CIMS) observations in field
and environmental chamber studies have been interpreted as evidence of a dominant role of iodic acid (HIO 3) in iodine-driven particle formation. Here, we report flow tube laboratory experiments that solve these discrepancies by showing that both IxOy and HIO3 are involved in atmospheric new particle formation. I 2Oy molecules (y = 2, 3, and 4) react with nitrate core ions to generate mass spectra similar to those obtained by CIMS, including the iodate anion. Iodine pentoxide (I2 O5 ) produced by photolysis of higher-order IxOy is hydrolyzed, likely by the water dimer, to yield HIO3 , which also contributes to the iodate anion signal. We estimate that ∼50% of the iodate anion signals observed by nitrate CIMS under atmospheric water vapor concentrations originate from I 2Oy. Under such conditions, iodine-containing clusters and particles are formed by aggregation of I 2 Oy and HIO3 , while under dry laboratory conditions, particle formation is driven exclusively by I 2Oy. An updated mechanism for iodine gas-to-particle conversion is provided. Furthermore, we propose that a key iodine reservoir species such as iodine nitrate, which we observe as a product of the reaction between iodine oxides and the nitrate anion, can also be detected by CIMS in the atmosphere.


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