An in-situ instrument for speciated organic composition of atmospheric aerosols: Thermal desorption aerosol GC/MS-FID (TAG)

Brent Williams, Allen Goldstein, Nathan Kreisberg, Susanne Hering

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178 Scopus citations


We introduce a new in-situ instrument, Thermal desorption Aerosol GC/MS-FID (TAG), capable of hourly measurements of speciated organic compounds in atmospheric aerosols. Aerosol samples are collected into a thermal desorption cell by means of humidification and inertial impaction. The sample is thermally desorbed and transferred with helium carrier gas into a gas chromatography (GC) column, with subsequent detection by both quadrupole mass spectrometer (MS) and a flame ionization detector (FID). The collection and analysis steps are automated, yielding around the clock speciation. This approach builds on the extensive body of knowledge available for quantification and source apportionment of organic aerosols from past research using filter-based GC/MS analyses, but it is the first instrument to achieve in-situ time resolved measurements for an essentially unlimited number of samples, making it possible to analyze changes in organic aerosol speciation over timescales ranging from hours to seasons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)627-638
Number of pages12
JournalAerosol Science and Technology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jun 1 2006
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
TAGwas developed using a U.S. Department of Energy SBIR Phase I & II grant (DE-FG02-02ER83825), and a graduate research environmental fellowship was provided by DOE’s Global Change Education Program. Additional support during ICARTT 2004 was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. We would also like to thank Megan McKay of the University of California at Berkeley for technical and logistical support, Dr. Dylan Millet (previously of the University of California at Berkeley, currently at Harvard University) for technical assistance and extensive assistance regarding GC/MS operation, and Dr. James Schauer of the University of Wisconsin at Madison for assistance regarding GC/MS analysis of semivolatile compounds.


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