Research in the Atkinson group is primarily in the area of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. We tend to focus on the development and deployment of new types of instruments for the measurements of species concentrations and optical effects, but we also try to make “real world” relevant measurements. We have studied the kinetics of free radicals and have made measurements of important hydrocarbon pollutants and still have the capability to do those measurements, but we have recently become very interested in the climate and air quality impacts of aerosols.
We have developed two aerosol optical instruments based on the popular cavity ring-down technique and have deployed the one in a number of field intensive experiments, including the TexAQS/GoMACCS 2006 study in Houston, Texas. The second generation instrument, developed under NOAA Atmospheric Composition and Climate program funding, is intended for airborne sampling and measures a variety of aerosol physical and optical properties. We have finished laboratory validation studies and will deploy this new instrument in the field, including in the 2009 CARES project, a DoE sponsored study of the atmospheric evolution of particles downstream of a source region.
We are specifically interested in the climate impacts of diesel particulate matter, especially that produced from biodiesel combustion, which has been viewed lately as a promising replacement fuel. We are also beginning to investigate atmospheric sources of “brown carbon” particles that are produced by combustion and that absorb significantly more light in the UV than in the visible part of the spectrum. Our new instrument is particularly well-suited for the latter set of experiments.