first steps of sulphuric acid nanocluster formation dynamics
The clustering of sulphuric acid with base molecules is one of the main pathways of new-particle formation in the Earth's atmosphere. First step in the clustering process is likely the formation of a (sulphuric acid)1(base)1(water)n cluster. Here, we present results from direct first-principles molecular dynamics collision simulations of (sulphuric acid)1(water)0, 1 + (dimethylamine) → (sulphuric acid)1(dimethylamine)1(water)0, 1 cluster formation processes. The simulations indicate that the sticking factor in the collisions is unity: the interaction between the molecules is strong enough to overcome the possible initial non-optimal collision orientations. No post-collisional cluster break up is observed. The reasons for the efficient clustering are (i) the proton transfer reaction which takes place in each of the collision simulations and (ii) the subsequent competition over the proton control. As a consequence, the clusters show very dynamic ion pair structure, which differs from both the static structure optimisation calculations and the equilibrium first-principles molecular dynamics simulations. In some of the simulation runs, water mediates the proton transfer by acting as a proton bridge. In general, water is able to notably stabilise the formed clusters by allocating a fraction of the released clustering energy.
Molecular Physics, 2014, Vol 112, Issue 15, p. 1979-1986