Atmospheric Aerosols: Chemical Composition, Sources, Formation and Transformation

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With the state-of-the-art instruments (AMS, CIMS, Vocus, Orbitrap-MS, GC/MS etc.,) and source apportionment (ME-2) methodologies, we aim to get a better understanding of aerosol sources which will help develop cost-effective air quality control strategies, as well as better constrain their corresponding climate effects. Source apportionment studies have been published in some of the most prestigious journals including Nature (Huang et al., 2014), Nature Sustainability (Lin et al., 2018), EST (Lin et al., 2017), ACP (Duan et al., 2019, 2020).

In terms of aerosol types, aerosols can be broadly categorized into primary aerosols, which are directly emitted from sources such as biomass and fossil-fuel burning, and secondary aerosols, which are formed in the atmosphere from precursor gases, such as volatile organic compounds, ammonia, sulfur, and nitrogen dioxide. Based on our previous studies, organic aerosol is often found to be a major component of ambient particulate in the atmosphere. Therefore, our current studies focus on studying sources of organic aerosol. By combining organic aerosol mass spectra measurements with the receptor model of positive matrix factorization (PMF) and the multilinear engine (ME-2), a better constraint on the contribution of coal combustion, biomass burning, traffic during haze development in China has been achieved, playing an important role in policy development in the tackling of haze pollution. The research facility in Huang’s group continues to grow in national and international importance, breaking new ground, not only in terms of operational monitoring of new pollutants in the atmosphere and delivery of real-time in-situ data but also in terms of fundamental research with the highest impact.


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