Prof. Barbara J. Finlayson-Pitts
- Research Area:
Director, AirUCI Institute. Professor of Chemistry and UCI Distinguished Professor [Ph.D. in Chemistry from University of California, Riverside]. Professor Finlayson-Pitts brings expertise in laboratory experiments and a broad background in atmospheric chemistry to the ORU.
Professor Finlayson-Pitts has been Director of the AirUCI Institute, initially funded by the National Science Foundation, since its inception in 2004. Her research is directed primarily to elucidating the kinetics, mechanisms, and photochemistry of chemical reactions and processes at the surfaces of airborne particles. Reactions of organic (gasoline-like) compounds and nitrogen oxides that collect on surfaces of these particles—as well as structures, vegetation, and other objects—are not at all well understood, yet might be quite important since they occur close to the earth's surface where we live and breathe.
The field of atmospheric chemistry encompasses the chemical and physical processes playing key roles in the natural and polluted atmosphere, from urban to remote areas and from the lower to the upper atmosphere. Understanding these processes requires field measurements; the development, testing, and application of models; and laboratory studies of kinetics and mechanisms.
Research in her laboratory is directed primarily to elucidating the fundamental kinetics, mechanisms, and photochemistry of relevant gaseous reactions as well as heterogeneous processes at the surfaces of, and in, particles. She has a number of collaborations with faculty in the Department of Chemistry and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, as well as at other institutionsdomestically and internationally, that help to develop an integrated understanding of these systems from the molecular level to ambient air.
There are three overall systems of current interest:
- reactions of sea salt particles to generate photochemically active halogen gases such as Cl2, Br2, and BrCl
- reactions of oxides of nitrogen at aqueous interfaces and in thin water films on surfaces to generate HONO and other species such as HNO3 and N2O
- reactions of organics in and on particles, and reactions that lead to new particle formation and growth
Experimental approaches used for elucidating the chemistry include Fourier transform infra-red spectrometry (FTIR), diffuse reflectance infra-red Fourier transform spectroscopy (DRIFTS), attenuated total reflectance FTIR (ATR-FTIR), long path FTIR, differential optical absorption spectrometry (DOAS), and various mass spectrometry methods. In addition, two unique aerosol chambers equipped with particle generation and sizing systems, long path FTIR, DOAS, and atmospheric pressure ionization mass spectrometry (API-MS) are applied to studying the formation of new particles and their interactions of gases in real time.
- Atmospheric, Physical Chemistry, and Analytical Chemistry