Date of Thesis



Aerosols are known to have important effects on climate, the atmosphere, and human health. The extent of those effects is unknown and largely depend on the interaction of aerosols with water in the atmosphere. Ambient aerosols are complex mixtures of both inorganic and organic compounds. The cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) activities, hygroscopic behavior and particle morphology of a monocarboxylic amino acid (leucine) and a dicarboxylic amino acid (glutamic acid) were investigated. Activation diameters at various supersaturation conditions were experimentally determined and compared with Köhler theoretical values. The theory accounts for both surface tension and the limited solubility of organic compounds. It was discovered that glutamic acid aerosols readily took on water both when relative humidity was less than 100% and when the supersaturation condition was reached, while leucine did not show any water activation at those conditions. Moreover, the study also suggests that Köhler theory describes CCN activity of organic compounds well when only surface tension of the compound is taken into account and complete solubility is assumed. Single parameter ¿ was also computed using both CCN data and hygroscopic growth factor (GF). The results of ¿ range from 0.17 to 0.53 using CCN data and 0.09 to 0.2 using GFs. Finally, the study suggests that during the water-evaporation/particle-nucleation process, crystallization from solution droplets takes place at different locations: for glutamic acid at the particles¿ center and leucine at the particles¿ boundary.


leucine, glutamic acid, atmospheric aerosol, nanoscale, macroscale

Access Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Type

Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering


Chemical Engineering

First Advisor

Tim Raymond

Second Advisor

Ryan Snyder