ATMOSPHERIC CHEMISTRY: Atmospheric photochemistry at a fatty acid-coated air-water interface

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Abstract

Although fatty acids are believed to be photochemically inert in the actinic region, complex volatile organic compounds are produced during illumination of an air-water interface coated solely with a monolayer of carboxylic acid. When aqueous solutions containing nonanoic acid (NA) at bulk concentrations that give rise to just over a monolayer of NA coverage are illuminated with actinic radiation, saturated and unsaturated aldehydes are seen in the gas phase, and more highly oxygenated products appear in the aqueous phase. This chemistry is probably initiated by triplet-state NA molecules excited by direct absorption of actinic light at the water surface. Because fatty acids-covered interfaces are ubiquitous in the environment, such photochemical processing will have a substantial impact on local ozone and particle formation.

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