Aspirated capacitor measurements of air conductivity and ion mobility spectra

Aplin, K. L.
October 2005
Review of Scientific Instruments;Oct2005, Vol. 76 Issue 10, p104501
Academic Journal
Measurements of ions in atmospheric air are used to investigate atmospheric electricity and particulate pollution. Commonly studied ion parameters are (1) air conductivity, related to the total ion number concentration, and (2) the ion mobility spectrum, which varies with atmospheric composition. The physical principles of air ion instrumentation are long established. A recent development is the computerized aspirated capacitor, which measures ions from (a) the current of charged particles at a sensing electrode, and (b) the rate of charge exchange with an electrode at a known initial potential, relaxing to a lower potential. As the voltage decays, only ions of higher and higher mobility are collected by the central electrode and contribute to the further decay of the voltage. This enables extension of the classical theory to calculate ion mobility spectra by inverting voltage decay time series. In indoor air, ion mobility spectra determined from both the voltage decay inversion, and an established voltage switching technique, were compared and shown to be of similar shape. Air conductivities calculated by integration were: 5.3±2.5 and 2.7±1.1 fSm-1, respectively, with conductivity determined to be 3 fSm-1 by direct measurement at a constant voltage. Applications of the relaxation potential inversion method include air ion mobility spectrum retrieval from historical data, and computation of ion mobility spectra in planetary atmospheres.


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