The effect of particle pre-existing charge on unipolar charging and its implication on electrical aerosol measurements

Chaolong Qi, Christof Asbach, Weon Gyu Shin, Heinz Fissan, David Y.H. Pui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


We investigated the effect of particle pre-existing charges on unipolar charging. Particles carrying a defined number and polarity of pre-existing charges were used to study the unipolar charging process in a unipolar diffusion charger with positive ions. It was found that the particles initially carrying negative charges have almost the same amount of positive charges as the initially uncharged particles after passing the test charger; and the particles initially carrying more positive charges have more final charges. An analytical solution of a model for particle charge distribution of initially charged particles was provided for unipolar charging based on Fuchs' theory and the birth-and-death theory. The Niont value used in this model was obtained by fitting the experimental data of average charge on particles for initially uncharged particles. The results from the analytical solution show very good agreements with experimental data regarding the relationship between the pre-existing charge and the final charge on particles (50-200 nm in this study). Experimental tests of the response of Nanoparticle Surface Area Monitor (NSAM) against initially charged particles demonstrated that NSAM could have a large response deviation (more than 20% in the tested charge level) depending on the particle size and the amount of pre-existing positive charges on particles. Modeling of NSAM response showed similar deviation and predicted that when pre-existing charge is high enough, the NSAM response can be as large as 5 and 9 times of the uncharged particle response for alveolar and tracheobronchial surface area concentration, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)232-240
Number of pages9
JournalAerosol Science and Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Received 14 July 2008; accepted 29 October 2008. The authors are grateful for the financial support provided by the NSF Grant G2006-Star-F2. Address correspondence to Chaolong Qi, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Minnesota, 111 Church Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA. E-mail: [email protected]


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