New way to measure sulfate particles

Oct 07, 2005

The University of Maryland and the National Institute of Standards and Technology created an improved technique to measure sulfur isotopic ratios.

Sulfate particles in the atmosphere scatter and absorb sunlight, provide "seeds" for cloud formation, and affect the reflectivity and radiance of clouds, and thus the temperatures at the Earth's surface.

Atmospheric sulfate comes from natural sources, including oceans and volcanoes, but a large fraction comes from the burning of fossil fuels. Researchers can distinguish between various natural and anthropogenic sources in snow by measuring sulfur isotopes -- forms of the element with different numbers of neutrons.

The standard analysis technique, gas-source isotope ratio mass spectroscopy requires about 9 pounds of snow and ice, but the cycling of sulfur in the atmosphere is dynamic and variable, so samples that large blur seasonal changes, the researchers say.

The new analytical tool is based on thermal ionization mass spectrometry, which requires smaller samples, make it possible to distinguish seasonal changes in sulfur particulate composition.

The findings were presented at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society and are scheduled for publication in Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: New 'topological insulator' could lead to superfast computers

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

WEGA fusion experiment passed on to the USA

14 hours ago

The small WEGA fusion device at Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics (IPP) in Greifswald is being handed over to the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. The "Wendelstein-Experiment in Greifswald ...

Researchers design plasmonic cavity-free nanolaser

15 hours ago

(Phys.org) —A team of researchers at Imperial College in London has designed a new type of laser, one that could be made much smaller than today's models because it would be cavity-free. In their paper ...

Uncovering the forbidden side of molecules

Sep 21, 2014

Researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland have succeeded in observing the "forbidden" infrared spectrum of a charged molecule for the first time. These extremely weak spectra offer perspectives ...

User comments : 0