New Approaches for Understanding the Role of Aerosols in Atmospheric Processes


Aerosols have a profound effect on the energy balance of Earth’s atmosphere because aerosols absorb and scatter solar radiation and take up water to form cloud droplets. However, scientists do not fully understand the formation and evolution of atmospheric organic aerosols. By coupling new, high-resolution mass spectrometry methods and chemoinformatics models with electron microscopy and micro-spectroscopy, a team of scientists from the University of California, Irvine, and DOE’s Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL), a DOE scientific user facility in Richland, Wash., suggest that significant improvements can be made in our understanding of aerosol composition, aging, and the direct and indirect effects of aerosols on atmospheric radiation and climate processes. The unique advantages of using EMSL’s new nanospray desorption electrospray ionization (nanoDESI) mass spectrometry system are highlighted in the cover story of the March 7, 2011, issue of Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, DOE’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences, and EMSL’s Intramural Research and Capability Development Program.


Nizkorodov, S. A., J. Laskin, and A. Laskin. 2011. “Molecular Chemistry of Organic Aerosols Through the Application of High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry,” Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 13,3612–29. DOI: 10.1039/C0CP02032J.