Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

Atmospheric Chemistry Program Seminar

Chemistry of Organic Compounds in the Atmosphere and Indoor Air

Paul Ziemann, ANYL Faculty, CU Boulder

"Laboratory studies provide much of the fundamental data on reaction kinetics, products, and mechanisms that are needed to understand atmospheric and indoor air chemistry and to develop models that are used to establish air quality regulations and predict the effects of human activities. Research in my laboratory focuses primarily on environmental chamber studies of the atmospheric chemistry of organic compounds emitted from natural and anthropogenic sources and the physical and chemical processes by which oxidized organic reaction products form aerosol particles. In addition to this we have conducted a number of collaborative studies of indoor air chemistry at CU."


Chemistry of Volatile Organic Compounds in the Atmosphere

Joost de Gouw, ANYL faculty, CU Boulder

"Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are released from many different natural and man-made sources to the atmosphere. VOCs are removed by different oxidants on time scales of minutes to months with oxidized VOCs, ozone and fine particles as a result. These processes affect air quality and climate and are a challenge to understand due to the large number of different VOCs that are released to the atmosphere and the analytical difficulties in measuring all of these compounds as well as their oxidation products.

In our laboratory, we make measurements of VOCs by proton-transfer-reaction time-of-flight mass spectrometry (PTR-TOF) and gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS). PTR-TOF allows measurements of many different VOCs with high time resolution and without the need for pre-separation or sample treatment. GC-MS allows higher chemical detail, but at the cost of time resolution. We also combine these methods to better understand the compounds that are detected by PTR-TOF in different environments.

Several different ongoing and future projects will be presented in this seminar. First, we use PTR-TOF for measurements of VOCs in indoor environments to better understand their sources and fate. Second, we are working on the emissions and chemistry of VOCs in urban air. Third, we are working on a chamber study to better understand the formation of secondary organic aerosol from biogenic VOCs. Finally, we are also using data from satellite remote sensing instruments to measure the pollutants from oil and natural gas production, and from wildfires."


Monday, September 27, 2021


  • CU Boulder


  • CIRES employees
  • CU Boulder employees
  • NOAA employees
  • Science collaborators


  • Seminar
  • Open to Public