New experimental and theoretical approach to the heterogeneous hydrolysis of NO 2: Key role of molecular nitric acid and its complexes

K. A. Ramazan, L. M. Wingen, Y. Miller, G. M. Chaban, R. B. Gerber, S. S. Xantheas, B. J. Finlayson-Pitts

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Although heterogeneous chemistry on surfaces in the troposphere is known to be important, there are currently only a few techniques available for studying the nature of surface-adsorbed species as well as their chemistry and photochemistry under atmospheric conditions of 1 atm pressure and in the presence of water vapor. We report here a new laboratory approach using a combination of long path Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and attenuated total reflectance (ATR) FTIR that allows the simultaneous observation and measurement of gases and surface species. Theory is used to identify the surface-adsorbed intermediates and products, and to estimate their relative concentrations. At intermediate relative humidities typical of the tropospheric boundary layer, the nitric acid formed during NO 2 heterogeneous hydrolysis is shown to exist both as nitrate ions from the dissociation of nitric acid formed on the surface and as molecular nitric acid. In both cases, the ions and HNO 3 are complexed to water molecules. Upon pumping, water is selectively removed, shifting the NO 3 --HNO 3(H 2O) y, equilibria toward more dehydrated forms of HNO 3 and ultimately to nitric acid dimers. Irradiation of the nitric acid-water film using 300-400 nm radiation generates gaseous NO, while irradiation at 254 nm generates both NO and HONO, resulting in conversion of surface-adsorbed nitrogen oxides into photochemically active NO x, These studies suggest that the assumption that deposition or formation of nitric acid provides a permanent removal mechanism from the atmosphere may not be correct. Furthermore, a potential role of surface-adsorbed nitric acid and other species formed during the heterogeneous hydrolysis of NO 2 in the oxidation of organics on surfaces, and in the generation of gas-phase HONO on local to global scales, should be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6886-6897
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry A
Issue number21
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


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