Effect of humidity and organic vapors on water absorption of metal oxides

  • Dana Lightha D. T. Babela
  • Rheo B. LamorenaEmail author
Original Paper


Water plays a vital role in atmospheric heterogeneous chemistry by inducing particle surface speciation resulting in enhanced surface chemistry and reactivity. In this study, selected metal oxides (CdO, CuO, MnO2 and ZnO) were synthesized and characterized using UV–Vis spectroscopy for their λmax. The oxide particle sizes were found to fall within the 1–3 µm size range with satisfactory monodispersity. Particles were subjected to ambient (60–70%) and high (99%) relative humidity (%RH) levels at 28 °C—the average ambient temperature. Water adsorption of metal oxides in the presence of low-molecular-weight gas-phase organic compounds (formic acid, acetic acid, formaldehyde and acetaldehyde) was also evaluated. ATR-FTIR analyses were done by subjecting samples to dry, ambient and high % RH conditions in the presence and absence of volatilized organic compounds. Presence of infrared (IR) bands at 1600–1590 cm−1 and 3600–3100 cm−1 in sample IR spectra indicated water adsorption, the possible speciation of oxides into hydroxyl groups and the H bonding of water to hydroxyl groups, respectively. Surface roughness of dry and “wet” samples was also analyzed using atomic force microscopy (AFM) for supplementary surface characterization. Results show that increasing the %RH levels and presence of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) lead to increase in metal oxide water adsorption.


Water adsorption Particulate matter Atmospheric chemistry Aerosol 



This work was supported and funded by the Natural Sciences Research Institute (Project Code: CHE-17-1-05) of the University of the Philippines Diliman Campus. Analytical Services Laboratory, Dr. Leon M. Payawan’s research group and Dr. Portia Mahal G. Sabido’s research group at UP Diliman are also acknowledged.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Institute of Chemistry, Slovak Academy of Sciences 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Natural Sciences Research Institute, College of ScienceUniversity of the PhilippinesQuezon CityPhilippines
  2. 2.Institute of Chemistry, College of ScienceUniversity of the PhilippinesQuezon CityPhilippines

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