Hydrogen bonding and orientation effects on the accommodation of methylamine at the air-water interface

Ross D. Hoehn, Marcelo A. Carignano, Sabre Kais, Chongjing Zhu, Jie Zhong, Xiao C. Zeng, Joseph S. Francisco, Ivan Gladich

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32 Scopus citations


Methylamine is an abundant amine compound detected in the atmosphere which can affect the nature of atmospheric aerosol surfaces, changing their chemical and optical properties. Molecular dynamics simulation results show that methylamine accommodation on water is close to unity with the hydrophilic head group solvated in the interfacial environment and the methyl group pointing into the air phase. A detailed analysis of the hydrogen bond network indicates stronger hydrogen bonds between water and the primary amine group at the interface, suggesting that atmospheric trace gases will likely react with the methyl group instead of the solvated amine site. These findings suggest new chemical pathways for methylamine acting on atmospheric aerosols in which the methyl group is the site of orientation specific chemistry involving its conversion into a carbonyl site providing hydrophilic groups for uptake of additional water. This conversion may explain the tendency of aged organic aerosols to form cloud condensation nuclei. At the same time, formation of NH2 radical and formaldehyde is suggested to be a new source for NH2 radicals at aerosol surfaces, other than by reaction of absorbed NH3. The results have general implications for the chemistry of other amphiphilic organics, amines in particular, at the surface of atmospherically relevant aerosols.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number214701
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number21
StatePublished - Jun 7 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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