University of Oulu

Bzdek, B., Reid, J., Malila, J., Prisle, N. (2020) The surface tension of surfactant-containing, finite volume droplets. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117 (15), 8335-8343.

The surface tension of surfactant-containing, finite volume droplets

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Author: Bzdek, Bryan R.1; Reid, Jonathan P.1; Malila, Jussi2;
Organizations: 1School of Chemistry, University of Bristol, BS8 1TS Bristol, United Kingdom
2Nano and Molecular Systems Research Unit, University of Oulu, 90014 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-04-22


Atmospheric aerosol particles cool Earth’s climate by serving as cloud droplet seeds. This cooling effect represents both the single most uncertain and the largest negative radiative forcing. Cloud droplet activation is strongly influenced by aerosol particle surface tension, which in climate models is assumed equivalent to that of pure water. We directly measure the surface tensions of surfactant-coated, high surface-to-volume ratio droplets, demonstrating that their surface tensions are significantly lower than pure water but do not match the surface tension of the solution from which they were produced and depend on finite droplet size. These results suggest surfactants could potentially significantly modify radiative forcing and highlight the need for a better understanding of atmospheric surfactant concentrations and properties.

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Series: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
ISSN: 0027-8424
ISSN-E: 1091-6490
ISSN-L: 0027-8424
Volume: 117
Issue: 15
Pages: 8335 - 8343
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1915660117
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 114 Physical sciences
116 Chemical sciences
1171 Geosciences
Funding: B.R.B. and J.P.R. acknowledge support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council through grant EP/L010569/1. B.R.B. acknowledges support from the Natural Environment Research Council through grant NE/P018459/1. J.M. and N.L.P. acknowledge funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Project SURFACE (the unexplored world of aerosol surfaces and their impacts; grant agreement 717022) and from the Academy of Finland (grants 308238 and 314175).
EU Grant Number: (717022) SURFACE - The unexplored world of aerosol surfaces and their impacts.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 308238
Detailed Information: 308238 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
314175 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Dataset Reference: Data deposition: All data underlying the figures are provided through the University of Bristol Data Repository, data.bris, at
Copyright information: © 2020 the Author(s). Published by PNAS. This open access article is distributed under Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CC BY).