Sea spray aerosol structure and composition using cryogenic transmission electron microscopy

Joseph P. Patterson*, Douglas B. Collins, Jennifer M. Michaud, Jessica L. Axson, Camile M. Sultana, Trevor Moser, Abigail C. Dommer, Jack Conner, Vicki H. Grassian, M. Dale Stokes, Grant B. Deane, James E. Evans, Michael D. Burkart, Kimberly A. Prather, Nathan C. Gianneschi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


The composition and surface properties of atmospheric aerosol particles largely control their impact on climate by affecting their ability to uptake water, react heterogeneously, and nucleate ice in clouds. However, in the vacuum of a conventional electron microscope, the native surface and internal structure often undergo physicochemical rearrangement resulting in surfaces that are quite different from their atmospheric configurations. Herein, we report the development of cryogenic transmission electron microscopy where laboratory generated sea spray aerosol particles are flash frozen in their native state with iterative and controlled thermal and/or pressure exposures and then probed by electron microscopy. This unique approach allows for the detection of not only mixed salts, but also soft materials including whole hydrated bacteria, diatoms, virus particles, marine vesicles, as well as gel networks within hydrated salt droplets-all of which will have distinct biological, chemical, and physical processes. We anticipate this method will open up a new avenue of analysis for aerosol particles, not only for ocean-derived aerosols, but for those produced from other sources where there is interest in the transfer of organic or biological species from the biosphere to the atmosphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)40-47
Number of pages8
JournalACS Central Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 27 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Sea spray aerosol structure and composition using cryogenic transmission electron microscopy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this