A method and system of identifying individual aerosol particles in real time. Sample aerosol particles are compared against and identified with substantially matching known particle types by producing positive and negative test spectra of an individual aerosol particle using a bipolar single particle mass spectrometer. Each test spectrum is compared to spectra of the same respective polarity in a database of predetermined positive and negative spectra for known particle types and a set of substantially matching spectra is obtained. Finally the identity of the individual aerosol particle is determined from the set of substantially matching spectra by determining a best matching one of the known particle types having both a substantially matching positive spectrum and a substantially matching negative spectrum associated with the best matching known particle type.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.