Effects of Coadsorbed Water on the Heterogeneous Photochemistry of Nitrates Adsorbed on TiO2
The Journal of Physical Chemistry A
Effects of Coadsorbed Water on the Heterogeneous Photochemistry of Nitrates Adsorbed on TiO2 Christopher J. Ostaszewski, Natalie M. Stuart, Daniel M. B. Lesko, Deborah Kim, Matthew J. Lueckheide, and Juan G. Navea The Journal of Physical Chemistry A 2018 122 (31), 6360-6371 DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpca.8b04979
Nitric acid, a well-known sink of NOx gases in the atmosphere, has been found to be photoactive while adsorbed on tropospheric particles. When adsorbed onto semiconductive metal oxides, nitrate’s photochemical degradation can be interpreted as a photocatalytic process. Yet, the photolysis of nitrate ions on the surface of aerosols can also be initiated by changes in the symmetry of the ion upon adsorption. In this study, we use quantum chemistry to model the vibrational spectra of adsorbed nitrate on TiO2, a semiconductor component of atmospheric aerosols, and determine the kinetics of the heterogeneous photochemical degradation of nitrate under simulated solar light. Frequencies and geometry calculations suggest that the symmetry of chemisorbed nitrate ion depends strongly on coadsorbed water, with water changing the reactive surface of TiO2. Upon irradiation, surface nitrate undergoes photolysis to yield nitrogen-containing gaseous products including NO2, NO, HONO, and N2O, in proportions that depend on relative humidity (RH). In addition, the heterogeneous photochemistry rate constant decreases an order of magnitude, from (5.7 ± 0.1) × 10–4 s–1 on a dry surface to (7.1 ± 0.8) × 10–5 s–1 when nitrate is coadsorbed with water above monolayer coverage. Little is known about the roles of coadsorbed water on the heterogeneous photochemistry of nitrates on TiO2, along with its impact on the chemical balance of the atmosphere. This work discusses the roles of water in the photolysis of surface nitrates on TiO2 and the concomitant renoxification of the atmosphere.