Measuring ultrafine aerosols by direct photoionization and charge capture in continuous flow

Robert T. Nishida, Adam M. Boies, Simone Hochgreb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Direct ultraviolet (UV) photoionization enables electrical charging of aerosol nanoparticles without relying on the collision of particles and ions. In this work, a low-strength electric field is applied during particle photoionization to capture charge as it is photoemitted from the particles in continuous flow, yielding a novel electrical current measurement. As in conventional photocharging-based measurement devices, a distinct electrical current from the remaining photocharged particles is also measured downstream. The two distinct measured currents are proportional to the total photoelectrically active area of the particles. A three-dimensional numerical model for particle and ion (dis)charging and transport is evaluated by comparing simulations of integrated electric currents with those from charged soot particles and ions in an experimental photoionization chamber. The model and experiment show good quantitative agreement for a single empirical constant, KcI, over a range of particle sizes and concentrations providing confidence in the theoretical equations and numerical method used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)546-556
Number of pages11
JournalAerosol Science and Technology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 4 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge Alphasense Ltd., Cambridge Trust, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada for financial support.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Association for Aerosol Research.

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