Novel Experimental Approach to Study the Kinetics of Sea Salt Particles has Application to Surface Science and Catalysis


A recent feature article in The Journal of Physical Chemistry A by Yong Liu and Alexander Laskin, scientists from the William R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL), and collaborating EMSL users Jeremy Cain and Hai Wang from the University of Southern California on the kinetics of micron-sized sea salt particles draws attention to a novel experimental approach that not only has applicability to atmospheric chemistry, but also to surface science and catalysis. In this study, the team designed a reaction chamber with appropriate flow parameters using computational fluid dynamics, exposed sea salt particles to reactive gases under a variety of relative humidity and reaction time conditions, and measured the reaction kinetics using computer-controlled scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray analysis (CCSEM/EDX). The study focused on sea salt particles because they are the second largest component, by mass, of the global aerosol burden, and they contribute substantially to atmospheric chemistry, air quality and climate change issues. The study is expected to be of interest to the catalysis and surface science research communities because it provides a new way to investigate the reaction kinetics of micron-sized particles. For EMSL, it demonstrates the power of applying multiple capabilities to obtain fundamental reaction kinetics information. Feature articles are published by the invitation of the journal’s Editor-in-Chief to draw attention to important active research areas in physical chemistry. The team’s work appeared in the October 2007 issue of The Journal of Physical Chemistry A.