Aerosol Science and Engineering

, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 165–172 | Cite as

Measuring the Organic Carbon to Organic Matter Multiplier with Thermal/Optical Carbon-Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer Analyses

  • Judith C. ChowEmail author
  • Gustavo M. Riggio
  • Xiaoliang Wang
  • L.-W. Antony Chen
  • John G. Watson
Original Paper


A thermal/optical carbon analyzer (TOA) was adapted to direct thermally-evolved gases to an electron ionization quadrupole mass spectrometer (QMS), creating a TOA-QMS. While this approach produces spectra similar to those obtained by the Aerodyne aerosol mass spectrometer (AMS), and can quantify sulfate (SO42−), nitrate (NO3), ammonium (NH4+), and organic carbon (OC) fractions from ambient particle laden quartz-fiber filters, there remains a need to further understand the composition of the organic aerosol fraction. Elemental analysis (EA) of standard organic mixtures and ambient samples demonstrates the feasibility of the TOA-QMS for measuring the ratios of oxygen-to-carbon (O/C), hydrogen-to-carbon (H/C), nitrogen-to-carbon (N/C), sulfur-to-carbon (S/C), and organic matter-to-organic carbon (OM/OC). For ambient samples from Central California, the TOA-QMS returned average ratios for O/C of 1.03 ± 0.27 and H/C of 1.95 ± 0.69, respectively. Higher H/C ratios were observed during clean air episodes, while lower ratios were observed during hazy conditions. A relatively constant level of aerosol oxidation was observed throughout the study. The average OM/OC multiplier was 2.55 ± 0.4, which is higher than the conventionally used values of 1.4 and 1.8, indicating higher contributions from biomass burning and aged aerosols.


Organic carbon Organic matter Ratios of O/C and H/C And OM/OC 



This research was partially supported by National Science Foundation Grant no. CHE 1464501 and the National Park Service IMPROVE Carbon Analysis Contract P16PC00229. Dr. Glenn Miller of the University of Nevada, Reno provided useful suggestions for the experiments and their description.


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Copyright information

© Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy Sciences 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Judith C. Chow
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Gustavo M. Riggio
    • 1
  • Xiaoliang Wang
    • 1
  • L.-W. Antony Chen
    • 4
  • John G. Watson
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Atmospheric SciencesDesert Research InstituteRenoUSA
  2. 2.Graduate FacultyUniversity of NevadaRenoUSA
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology (SKLLQG), Institute of Earth EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesXi’anPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Department of Environmental and Occupational HealthUniversity of NevadaLas VegasUSA

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