Jeffrey Roberts - Research Science
Jeff Roberts is applying the surface chemical properties of aerosol nanoparticles in two research areas: the fate and properties of anthropogenic (human-derived) nanoparticles when they are emitted into the atmosphere; and the deliberate synthesis of nanoparticles for materials and catalysis applications.
His research in environmental surface chemistry involves understanding how water interacts with soot particles to form clouds in the atmosphere. “Freshly generated soot is an example of what a chemist would call a hydrophobic substance—it doesn’t interact in a favorable way with water,” Roberts says. He says a good way to visualize the hydrophobic qualities of soot is to touch a candle wick immediately after the candle is blown out. The candle soot left on your finger is somewhat greasy and repels water. “So there is something that happens to soot particles after they are released into the atmosphere—some kind of processing that happens at the surface that coverts soot into water-attracting condensation nuclei,” he added.
Roberts’ other research area focuses on nanoparticle materials and catalysis applications. A proposal for a study on the catalytic activity of gold that he recently submitted to the National Science Foundation has been recommended for funding, and the work would be conducted at Purdue. The project would include student exchanges at the graduate and undergraduate levels with the University of Karlsruhe in Germany.
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Chemistry Communications, Steve Scherer
Dean, College of Science
Professor, Physical Chemistry