CAREER: Molecular Scale Characterization of Water Adsorption on Surfaces Relevant to Cirrus Cloud Formation

Project: Research project

Project Details


This CAREER proposal by Professor Miriam Freedman of Pennsylvania State University is co-funded but the Environmental Chemical Sciences Program in the Chemistry Division and the Atmospheric Chemistry Program in the Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences Division, both at the National Science Foundation. The research results obtained in this proposal will be used to determine the sensitivity of cirrus cloud properties to chemical composition. In addition, while seeking to apply surface science techniques to address questions in the atmospheric sciences, the results of the study will also impact the environmental, biological, and materials sciences. As a result, articles that stem from the proposed studies will be disseminated primarily in journals that will attract these different audiences. Professor Freedman is committed to the professional development of undergraduate and graduate students in her research lab and courses. In both environments, she works with students to enhance their ability to communicate science. In this proposal, she will build on her interest in teaching communication skills and increasing scientific literacy by working with science and communications undergraduates to develop a miniature online course in atmospheric chemistry and clouds aimed at teachers of secondary education. Based on the online course, the investigator will hold summer workshops for groups of teachers to develop demonstrations and labs for the classroom.

The long-term goals of the research are to apply fundamental ideas from surface and materials science to advance the field of atmospheric chemistry through 1) investigation of the physical and chemical processing of aerosol particles using novel methods that combine spectroscopy and microscopy techniques and, 2) exploration of how the organization of organic compounds on single-crystal surfaces influences water and ice adsorption on the molecular scale with application to heterogeneous ice nucleation. The results of the proposed studies will be used to determine the sensitivity of cirrus (ice) cloud properties to chemical composition. The effect of competitive adsorption of water before and after adsorption of organic molecules will be explored. Mixtures of organic compounds and oxidized organic compounds will be used in this study. Professor Freedman has designed and built a novel variable temperature ultrahigh vacuum chamber equipped with instrumentation for the study of these insulator materials.

Effective start/end date9/1/148/31/20


  • National Science Foundation: $533,842.00


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