In-Flight Size Focusing of Aerosols by a Low Temperature Plasma

Uner N. B., Thimsen E.

JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY C, vol.121, no.23, pp.12936-12944, 2017 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 121 Issue: 23
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Doi Number: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.7b03572
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.12936-12944
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: No


Thermodynamics dictate the direction of all chemical and physical processes. In the case of aerosols, maximization of entropy leads to a broadening of the size distribution as the system proceeds toward equilibrium. The expectation is that as an aerosol ages, the size distribution will broaden. Contrary to this expectation, in this work we demonstrate that the unique nonequilibrium environment in a low temperature plasma can modify particulate materials to make the size distribution narrower. Submicrometer aerosols composed of bismuth particles with a polydispersed size distribution were prepared and passed through a low temperature argon plasma. For lower powers at which the plasma operated near room temperature, the incoming polydispersed aerosol was converted into a monodispersed aerosol of geometric standard deviation approximately 1.1 with 65% mass yield. The mechanism by which the process took place involved the particles vaporizing in the plasma operating at near room temperature, which resulted in very large supersaturation of metal vapor. Particle heating and sputtering by ion bombardment are discussed as possible mechanisms leading to vaporization that causes the change in the size distribution to make it narrower.