Inversion of ultrafine condensation nucleus counter pulse height distributions to obtain nanoparticle (~ 3-10 nm) size distributions

Rodney J. Weber, Mark R. Stolzenburg, Spyros N. Pandis, Peter H. McMurry

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Previous work has shown that for particles smaller than about 15 nm, pulse heights produced by the optical detector in a white-light ultrafine condensation nucleus counter decrease with initial particle size. We have previously reported on the use of pulse heights from this instrument to determine the concentrations of freshly nucleated atmospheric nanoparticles in the 3-4 nm diameter range. In this paper we report on the inversion of measured pulse-height distributions to obtain size distributions of particles in the 3-10 nm diameter range. Using methods developed by Stolzenburg the effect of diffusional broadening is taken into account so as to obtain monodisperse kernel functions from measured pulse-height distributions produced by DMA-generated calibration aerosols in the 3-50 nm diameter range. These kernel functions are then used with the MICRON algorithm described by Wolfenbarger and Seinfeld to obtain size distributions of nanoparticle aerosols from measured pulse height distributions. Calculations were done to ensure that assumed pulse-height data generated from selected known size distributions can be inverted to recover the original size distribution. Results from these validation studies are discussed. Applications of the inversion algorithm to data acquired in studies of homogeneous nucleation in the atmosphere are also presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-615
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Aerosol Science
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Jun 1 1998

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Prof. Lynn Russell of Princeton University for her comments and suggestions regarding the MICRON inversions. Research at BNL was performed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy contract DE-AC02-76CH00016 Atmospheric Chemistry Program within the Office of Health and Environmental Research. This work was also supported by Department of Energy Grant No. DE-FG02-91ER61205. By accepting this article, the publisher and/or recipient acknowledges the U.S. Government’s right to a retain a non-exclusive, royalty-free license in and to any copyright covering this paper.


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