Ns-Soot: A material-based term for strongly light-absorbing carbonaceous particles

P R Buseck, Kouji Adachi, András Gelencsér, Éva Tompa, Mihály Pósfai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


The climate-change and environmental literature, including that on aerosols, is replete with mention of black carbon (BC) and soot. The terms are used interchangeably in much of the literature, although BC and soot commonly have operational and source-based definitions, respectively, and reliable reference samples and aerosol standards do not exist for either one. The uncertainty about their exact chemical nature and properties can be decreased by materials-based measurement techniques and terminology. Here, we discuss ambiguities in common uses of BC and soot and propose the term ns-soot, where "ns" refers to carbon nanospheres, for a characteristic constituent of BC and soot. Based on its composition, morphology, and structure, we define ns-soot as particles that consist of nanospheres, typically with diameters <100 nm, that possess distinct structures of concentrically wrapped, graphene-like layers of carbon and with grape-like (aciniform) morphologies. We additionally propose that, because of their importance for climate modeling and health issues, distinctions are made among bare, coated, and embedded ns-soot particles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)777-788
Number of pages12
JournalAerosol Science and Technology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 3 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Pollution


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