Project Overview

Photochemical pathways to the production of secondary organic aerosol

Faculty Sponsor

Ephraim Woods (




The reaction of volatile and semivolatile organic compounds by gas phase oxidizers, such as OH, Cl, NO3, and O3, produce non-volatile species that condense onto aerosol particles.  This secondary organic aerosol (SOA) represents a large fraction of the overall organic aerosol burden.  Models underestimate the aerosol growth observed in the atmosphere, and unknown photochemical pathways are among the sources of the deficit.  This project will examine the initial reactive uptake kinetics of volatile organic compounds onto photosensitized aerosol particle surfaces.  This work will evaluate the importance of photochemically driven growth of SOA and determine the conditions that promote efficient photochemical SOA formation.  A detailed understanding of the dependence of this mechanism on the morphology of particles and on typical atmospheric conditions will lead to a more critical evaluation of its importance in heterogeneous atmospheric chemistry. 

Student Qualifications

The students should be enrolled in Chemistry classes, and should intend to major in Chemistry, Biochemistry, or related field.  I welcome applications from students early in the Colgate career. 

Number of Student Researchers

4 students

Project Length

8 weeks

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If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (