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Lei Zhu, Ph.D.

  • Lei Zhu

    Lei Zhu, Ph.D.

    • Environmental Atmospheric Chemistry
    • Professor, School of Public Health, Environmental Health Sciences

    • Ph.D., Physical Chemistry, Columbia University (1991)
    • Enrico Fermi Scholar, Chemistry Division, Argonne National Laboratory (1991-1993)
    • Member, National Academies Committee on the Future of Atmospheric Chemistry Research, 2015-2016
    (518) 474-6846
    Fax: (518) 473-2895

Research Interests

My research program has been designed to investigate and understand what controls the atmosphere’s energy balance and how chemical reactions impact composition, pollutant and oxidant formation in the earth’s environment.  Answers to these questions are highly relevant to understanding atmospheric climate change, as well as controlling air pollution and protecting public health.

My group has carried out a number of research projects to address important issues driving atmospheric radiative balance and chemistry with the support of NSF.  

  • Demonstrated for the first time the existence of water vapor near UV absorption in the 290-350 nm region.  By coupling experimentally-determined water vapor near UV absorption cross section data with modeling of the solar flux at the ground using radiative transfer model, my group and a collaborator have shown that water vapor absorption in the 290-350 nm region can cause significant difference in the modeled solar flux at the ground level. 
  • Investigated adsorbed water UV absorption from monolayer to multilayer, and to heterogeneous nucleation.  Demonstrated the sensitivity and the feasibility of Brewster angle cavity ring-down technique in studying molecular adsorption on surfaces at different coverage levels and the heterogeneous nucleation on surfaces. 
  • Measured wavelength-dependent UV absorption cross sections of surface-adsorbed HNO3 and surface-adsorbed H2O.  Surface absorption cross sections of HNO3 and H2O are several orders of magnitude larger than those in the gas phase.
  • Discovered a new absorption band for nitrate on solid surfaces and determined for the first time nitrate near UV surface absorption cross sections.  Our experimental results have provided molecular level understanding as to why nitrate surface photolysis rates on urban grimes, particles, and other surfaces are so much faster than those of nitrate in the liquid phase.
  • Determined surface absorption and surface adsorption of various HNO3/H2O mixtures, and developed a method to calculate/estimate mixture surface absorption based upon multi-component Langmuir adsorption isotherm, total surface sites per unit area for a given mixture, and surface absorption cross sections for individual components. 
  • Determined the photolysis of acetaldehyde and nitric acid in the gas phase, and on Al, ice, and fused silica surfaces.  Showed that nitric acid photolysis in the presence of water vapor does not directly lead to HONO production.
  • Investigated gas phase reaction/wavelength-dependent photolysis of vinoxy radical, alkyl nitrates and a wide variety of aldehydes and dicarbonyls.

Select Publications

Sangwan M, Stockwell W, Stewart D, Zhu L.
Absorption of Near UV Light by HNO3/NO3- on Sapphire Surfaces.
Journal of Physical Chemistry A.
Zhu L, Sangwan M, Huang L, Du J, Chu LT.
Photolysis of Nitric Acid at 308 nm in the Absence and in the Presence of Water Vapor.
Journal of Physical Chemistry A.
Du J, Keesee RG, Zhu L.
Experimental Study of the Competitive Adsorption of HNO3 and H2O on Surfaces by Using Brewster Angle Cavity Ring-Down Spectroscopy Operating in the 295-345 nm Region.
Journal of Physical Chemistry A.
Du J, Huang L, Min Q, Zhu, L.
The Influence of Water Vapor Absorption in the 290-350 nm Region on Solar Radiance: Laboratory Studies and Model Simulation.
Geophysical Research Letters.
Du J, Huang L, Zhu L.
Absorption Cross Sections of Surface-Adsorbed H2O in the 295-370 nm Region and Heterogeneous Nucleation of H2O on Fused Silica Surfaces.
Journal of Physical Chemistry A.