Atmospheric & Aerosol Science

Atmopsheric & Aerosol Science

Aerosols are tiny solid and/or liquid particles suspended in the air. The size of aerosol particles spans several orders of magnitude from molecular clusters in the sub-nanometer range to several hundreds of a micron. Remember a human hair has a diameter of 100 micron on average. Aerosol particles can be man-made or natural, inorganic or biological, and most importantly they are ubiquitous in the environment. Combustion produces aerosol in the lower end of the size spectrum, while mechanical processes generate larger particles. Recently, engineered nanoparticles manufactured by using nanotechnology also fall into the lower end of the size spectrum. The size of aerosol particles determines the transport and transformation behavior of the particles in the air.

While the history of aerosol science is relatively young compared to other scientific discipline such as physics, chemistry, or biology, significant advances have been made in the past half of a century toward improving our understandings of aerosols and their impacts to human health and ecosystems. Major credit to the scientific advancement is due to the aerosol instruments developed that were made commercially available. In essence, instrumentation and measurement represents and is a major component in moving aerosol science forward in the 21st century.

Scientists in the atmospheric and aerosol science group conduct experimental and computational research works supported by Department of Energy and Department of Defense. The current research activities are:
  1. Characterization of military aircraft emissions
    • Development of emission indices for gas phase and aerosol phase species
    • Evaluation of commercially available and research-grade instrument for emissions characterization
    • Development of an advanced dilution reactor for sampling of volatile particles in jet engine emissions
    • Investigate transport and separation of volatile particles in a new thermal denuder
  2. Development of plasma based technologies for detection and decontamination
  3. Improving understanding of the health and environmental risks of nanometer materials
    • Production of precision controlled nanomaterials for toxicology research
    • Characterization of exposure to engineered nanomaterials
    • Assessing the biological impacts of nanoparticles
    • Mathematical modeling and imaging of nanometer materials
    • Translate nanotox science to regulatory consideration

Selected Publications from 2003 to 2008

For more information, contact:
Meng-Dawn Cheng (, 865-241-5918)