Indexed on: 01 Jun '99Published on: 01 Jun '99Published in: Journal of Nanoparticle Research
We consider the coagulation of an aerosol embedded in a stationary atmosphere of bipolar ions. Particles respond to the ionic environment by developing an instantaneous charge the fluctuations of which may produce attraction or repulsion between the particles. The governing parameter is the charge asymmetry factor which quantifies the relative charging efficiency of positive and negative ions. We use a Monte Carlo method to solve the coagulation equation in the free-molecule regime. We perform simulations for conditions ranging from symmetric and nearly symmetric environments (e.g. flames, ionizers), which result in particles that are on the average neutral to highly asymmetric conditions (low-pressure plasmas), which produce a substantial non-zero net charge. In symmetric ionic atmospheres we find that electrostatic interactions are unimportant and particles grow as if in the absence of charging ions. In asymmetric bipolar atmospheres, electrostatic interactions between particles are repulsive, the mean particle size grows logarithmically in time and the resulting size distributions are significantly narrower than the classical self preserving distributions.