Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers get new view of how water and sulfur dioxide mix

10.05.2011
Lab experiments unveil the role of surface molecules of water to airborne pollutants in the atmosphere

High in the sky, water in clouds can act as a temptress to lure airborne pollutants such as sulfur dioxide into reactive aqueous particulates. Although this behavior is not incorporated into today's climate-modeling scenarios, emerging research from the University of Oregon provides evidence that it should be.

The role of sulfur dioxide -- a pollutant of volcanic gasses and many combustion processes -- in acid rain is well known, but how sulfur dioxide reacts at the surface of aqueous particulates in the atmosphere to form acid rain is far from understood.

In National Science Foundation-funded laboratory experiments at the UO, chemistry doctoral student Stephanie T. Ota examined the behavior of sulfur dioxide as it approaches and adsorbs onto water at low temperatures that mimic high-atmospheric conditions. Using a combination of short-pulsed infrared and visible laser beams, she monitored the interaction of sulfur dioxide with water as it is flowed over a water surface.

The results -- detailed online ahead of regular publication in the Journal of the American Chemical Society -- show that as sulfur dioxide molecules approach the surface of water, they are captured by the top-most surface water molecules, an effect that is enhanced at cold temperatures.

Although this reaching out, says co-author Geraldine L. Richmond, professor of chemistry, provides a doorway for sulfur dioxide to enter the water solution, the weak nature of the surface-bonding interaction doesn't guarantee that the water temptress will be successful.

"We have found that that the sulfur dioxide bonding to the surface is highly reversible and does not necessarily provide the open doorway that might be expected," Ota said. "For example, for highly acidic water, the sulfur dioxide approaches and bonds to the water surface but shows little interest in going any further into the bulk water."

The uptake of gases like sulfur dioxide has important implications in understanding airborne pollutants and their role in global warming and climate change. Sulfur dioxide that has come together with water, becoming aqueous, reflects light coming toward the planet, while carbon dioxide accumulating in the atmosphere traps heat onto the planet.

Understanding the interaction of surface water molecules, such as those in clouds and fog, with pollutants rising from human activity below may help scientists better predict potential chemical reactions occurring in the atmosphere and their impacts, said Richmond, who was elected May 3 as a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

"In the past we presumed that most chemistry in the atmosphere occurred when gas molecules collide and react," she said. "These studies are some of the first to provide molecular insights into what happens when an atmospherically important gas such as sulfur dioxide collides with a water surface, and the role that water plays in playing the temptress to foster reactivity."

About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO also is one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.

Sources: Geraldine "Geri" Richmond, Richard M. and Patricia H. Noyes Professor of Chemistry, 541-346-4635, richmond@uoregon.edu; Stephanie Ota, 541-346-4648, sota@uoregon.edu

Links:
Richmond faculty page: http://richmondscience.uoregon.edu/index.html
UO chemistry department: http://pages.uoregon.edu/chem/
Audio segments:
1) Ota describes project: http://comm.uoregon.edu/files/pmr/uploads/Project_description.mp3
2) Ota describes experiment: http://comm.uoregon.edu/files/pmr/uploads/Laser_Monitoring.mp3

3) Richmond on findings and significance: http://comm.uoregon.edu/files/pmr/uploads/The_Findings.mp3

Follow UO Science on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/UniversityOfOregonScience

Jim Barlow | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uoregon.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Supercomputing helps researchers understand Earth's interior
23.05.2017 | University of Illinois College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

nachricht How is climate change affecting fauna in the Arctic?
22.05.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientists propose synestia, a new type of planetary object

23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria

23.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Medical gamma-ray camera is now palm-sized

23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>