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Analytical Methodology for Rapid Determination of Organic Aerosol Functional Group Distributions



Alicia J. Pettibone, William S. McGivern


Secondary organic aerosol (SOA) particles result from the condensation of oxidized volatile organic compounds (VOC) and consist of a complex mixture that resists a complete analysis. We present a simple methodology for determining the quantities of aldehydes and ketones, alcohols, and carboxylic acids in such samples via derivatization and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with ultraviolet-visible absorption detection and tandem mass spectrometry (MS-MS). Such data are valuable in modeling the formation of laboratory-generated aerosols and in source apportionment of field samples. Calibration curves on standard samples, MS-MS transitions, including collisionally-induced dissociation (CID) products, and a quantitative examination of the specificity of the derivatization reagents toward multiple functional groups are presented for a series of aliphatic standard samples. Ultimately, this methodology enables the measurement of variations in the chemical nature of the oxygen within an SOA particle, essentially providing a distribution of functional groups.
Analytical Chemistry


Secondary organic aerosol, high-performance liquid chromatography, derivatization, tandem mass spectrometry


Pettibone, A. and McGivern, W. (2013), Analytical Methodology for Rapid Determination of Organic Aerosol Functional Group Distributions, Analytical Chemistry, [online], (Accessed May 18, 2024)


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Created March 4, 2013, Updated October 12, 2021