Volume 83, Number 6, September 2008
Article Number 66002
Number of page(s) 6
Section Condensed Matter: Structural, Mechanical and Thermal Properties
Published online 09 September 2008
EPL, 83 (2008) 66002
DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/83/66002

Nucleation of a liquid on aerosol nanoparticles

R. P. Sear

Department of Physics, University of Surrey - Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH, UK, EU

received 16 May 2008; accepted in final form 29 July 2008; published September 2008
published online 9 September 2008

Nucleation of liquid water in the Earth's atmosphere occurs via heterogeneous nucleation on aerosol particles. We consider nucleation on both water-insoluble and water-soluble aerosol particles. We find that, for particles of the same radius, nucleation on soluble particles dominates. Soluble particles dissolve in the liquid phase and form a droplet even at coexistence. The radius of this droplet essentially determines the supersaturation at which nucleation occurs: the larger the droplet the smaller the supersaturation required before it nucleates to form the bulk liquid. We find that the supersaturation is best measured by the Kelvin radius, which is the radius of a droplet of pure liquid that coexists with vapour of a given supersaturation. We show that nucleation occurs at a universal value of the ratio between the radius of the droplet at coexistence and the Kelvin radius.

64.60.qe - General theory and computer simulations of nucleation.
64.70.F- - Liquid-vapor transitions.
92.20.Bk - Aerosols.

© EPLA 2008