Characterization of Individual Atmospheric Aerosols Using Quantitative Energy Dispersive-Electron Probe X-ray Microanalysis: A Review

  • Received : 2010.09.29
  • Accepted : 2010.11.12
  • Published : 2010.12.31


Great concerns about atmospheric aerosols are attributed to their multiple roles to atmospheric processes. For example, atmospheric aerosols influence global climate, directly by scattering or absorbing solar radiations and indirectly by serving as cloud condensation nuclei. They also have a significant impact on human health and visibility. Many of these effects depend on the size and composition of atmospheric aerosols, and thus detailed information on the physicochemical properties and the distribution of airborne particles is critical to accurately predict their impact on the Earth's climate as well as human health. A single particle analysis technique, named low-Z particle electron probe X-ray microanalysis (low-Z particle EPMA) that can determine the concentration of low-Z elements such as carbon, nitrogen and oxygen in a microscopic volume has been developed. The capability of quantitative analysis of low-Z elements in individual particle allows the characterization of especially important atmospheric particles such as sulfates, nitrates, ammonium, and carbonaceous particles. Furthermore, the diversity and the complicated heterogeneity of atmospheric particles in chemical compositions can be investigated in detail. In this review, the development and methodology of low-Z particle EPMA for the analysis of atmospheric aerosols are introduced. Also, its typical applications for the characterization of various atmospheric particles, i.e., on the chemical compositions, morphologies, the size segregated distributions, and the origins of Asian dust, urban aerosols, indoor aerosols in underground subway station, and Arctic aerosols, are illustrated.



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