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Measured Wavelength-Dependent Absorption Enhancement of Internally Mixed Black Carbon with Absorbing and Nonabsorbing Materials



Rian You, James Radney, Michael R. Zachariah, Christopher D. Zangmeister


Optical absorption spectra of laboratory generated aerosols consisting of black carbon (BC) internally mixed with nonabsorbing materials (ammonium sulfate, AS, and sodium chloride, NaCl) and BC with a weakly absorbing brown carbon surrogate derived from humic acid (HA) were measured across the visible to near-IR (550 to 840 nm). Spectra were measured in situ using a photoacoustic spectrometer and step-scanning a supercontinuum laser source with a tunable wavelength and bandwidth filter. BC had a mass-specific absorption cross section (MAC) of 7.89 +/- 0.25 m2 g-1 at lambda = 550 nm and an absorption Angstrom exponent (AAE) of 1.03 +/- 0.09 (2 sigma). For internally mixed BC, the ratio of BC mass to the total mass of the mixture was chosen as 0.13 to mimic particles observed in the terrestrial atmosphere. The manner in which BC mixed with each material was determined from transmission electron microscopy (TEM). AS/BC and HA/BC particles were fully internally mixed, and the BC was both internally and externally mixed for NaCl/BC particles. The AS/BC, NaCl/BC, and HA/BC particles had AAEs of 1.43 +/- 0.05, 1.34 +/- 0.06, and 1.91 +/- 0.05, respectively. The observed absorption enhancement of mixed BC relative to the pure BC was wavelength dependent for AS/BC and decreased from 1.5 at lambda = 550 nm with increasing wavelength while the NaCl/BC enhancement was essentially wavelength independent. For HA/BC, the enhancement ranged from 2 to 3 and was strongly wavelength dependent. Removal of the HA absorption contribution to enhancement revealed that the enhancement was approximately 1.5 and independent of wavelength.
Environmental Science & Technology


Aerosol, Absorption Enhancement, Black Carbon, Brown Carbon


You, R. , Radney, J. , Zachariah, M. and Zangmeister, C. (2016), Measured Wavelength-Dependent Absorption Enhancement of Internally Mixed Black Carbon with Absorbing and Nonabsorbing Materials, Environmental Science & Technology, [online],, (Accessed July 24, 2024)


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Created June 29, 2016, Updated October 14, 2021