The Environmental Chemical Sciences (ECS) program of the Division of Chemistry and the Atmospheric Chemistry program of the Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences will support the research program of Prof. Joel Thornton of the University of Washington. Professor Thornton and his students will study the reactivity of N2O5 in small aerosol particles and how it depends upon particle size and morphology when moderately soluble organic carbonaceous material is mixed with inorganic salts in aqueous solution droplets. N2O5 reacts primarily on liquid or solid particles suspended in air (aerosol particles) that range in size from 10 nanometers to 1 micrometer. Understanding chemical reactivity in such small spatial domains is of fundamental importance beyond interpreting atmospheric composition. The study will make use of state of the art mass spectrometry and particle sizing instruments, and involve collaboration with researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).
The proposed research will improve our understanding of the fundamental length scales of chemical reactions, of interest generally to the physical and environmental chemistry communities, and provide reaction rate measurements on atmospherically relevant particles. The latter is critical for developing robust parameterizations of gas-particle reactions for use in air quality and coupled chemistry-climate models that ultimately inform regulatory policy. The project will provide excellent training opportunities to students, including to members of under-represented groups, who wish to pursue a professional scientific career in an area of great societal importance.