Sink or Swim: Ions and Organics at the Ice-Air Interface

A Hudait and MT Allen and V Molinero, JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY, 139, 10095-10103 (2017).

DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b05233

The ice air interface is an important locus of environmental chemical reactions. The structure and dynamics of the ice surface impact the uptake of trace gases and kinetics of reactions in the atmosphere and snowpack. At tropospheric temperatures, the ice surface is partially premelted. Experiments indicate that ions increase the liquidity of the ice surface but hydrophilic organics do not. However, it is not yet known the extent of the perturbation solutes induce at the ice surface and what is the role of the disordered liquid-like layer in modulating the interaction between solutes and their mobility and aggregation at the ice surface. Here we use large-scale molecular simulations to investigate the effect of ions and glyoxal, one of the most abundant oxygenated volatile organic compounds in the atmosphere, on the structure, dynamics, and solvation properties of the ice surface. We find that the premelted surface of ice has unique solvation properties, different from those of liquid water. The increase in surface liquidity resulting from the hydration of ions leads to a water-mediated attraction of ions at the ice surface. Glyoxal molecules, on the other hand, perturb only slightly the surface of ice and do not experience water-driven attraction. They nonetheless accumulate as dry agglomerates at the ice surface, driven by direct interactions between the organic molecules. The enhanced attraction and clustering of ions and organics at the ice surface may play a significant role in modulating the mechanism and rate of heterogeneous chemical reactions occurring at the surface of atmospheric ice particles.

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