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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. Showed that water vapor near UV absorption can cause significant difference when laboratory water vapor absorption cross section data were used as input in modeling the solar flux at the ground level using a radiative transfer model. 
  • 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 spectroscopy in studying molecular adsorption on surfaces at different coverage levels. 
  • 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. Investigated nitric acid photolysis in the presence of water vapor.  Demonstrated that this process does not directly lead to HONO production.
  • Discovered a new absorption band for nitrate on solid surfaces and determined for the first time nitrate near UV surface absorption cross sections. Provided molecular level understanding as to why nitrate photolysis rates on urban grimes, particles, and other surfaces are so much faster than those in the liquid phase.
  • Demonstrated the importance of 2-nitrophenol gas phase photolysis in forming OH and HONO in the polluted, VOC-rich atmospheric environment. Provided the first quantitative determination of 2-nitrophenol near UV absorption cross sections and OH and HONO quantum yields following photodissociation of 2-nitrophenol.  The estimated 2-nitropheol gas phase photolysis rate constant based upon lab study results is about twice that of NO2.
  • Investigated gas phase reaction/wavelength-dependent photolysis of vinoxy radical, alkyl nitrates and a wide variety of carbonyl compounds.  

Select Publications

Zhou X, Zhu L.
Role of Nitric Acid Surface Photolysis on Tropospheric Cycling of Reactive Nitrogen Species.
Advances in Atmospheric Chemistry.
Sangwan M, Zhu L.
Absorption Cross Sections of 2-Nitrophenol in the 295-400 nm Region, and Photolysis of 2-Nitrophenol at 308 and 351 nm.
J Phys Chem A.
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.