The detection efficiency of Condensation Particle Counters (CPCs) reduces drastically as particle size becomes smaller than 2 nm. Increasing the supersaturation in order to enhance the detection efficiency, has limited applicability because the onset supersaturation value of droplet formation by homogeneous nucleation is very close to the heterogeneous onset supersaturation for sub-2 nm particles. In this work we introduce a new method for increasing the detection efficiency of CPCs for sub-2 nm particles, which relies mainly on controlling the spatial distribution of the supersaturation profile by simply modifying the operating temperatures of the CPC. We evaluated the new method by generating monodisperse particles in the size range of 0.98–4.50 nm and used them to characterize a TSI 3025 CPC. We achieved significant increase of the detection efficiency for sub-2 nm particles. Furthermore, we calculated the supersaturation field developed in the condenser tube with a finite element model and used it to determine the detection efficiency according to heterogeneous nucleation theory. These calculations reveal that the observed increase of the detection efficiency can be explained by the manipulation of the spatial distribution of the supersaturation field. The method introduced here can greatly improve the detection efficiency of CPCs and in the meantime further extend their use for particle sizing purposes in the sub-2-nm range.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-53
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Aerosol Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018

ID: 37385013