LAC - Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry
The Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry (LAC), established 1 January 2000, is a laboratory of the Energy and Environment Research Division (ENE) at the Paul Scherrer Institute.
Our laboratory comprises three interacting groups that operate a large variety of facilities and instruments in the lab and in the field.
Newly discovered rapid particle growth rates may be the answer to the mystery of aerosol formation in urban smog
Aerosols, suspended particles or droplets, play a key role in Earth’s atmosphere’s energy balance. They can also result in smog formation in cities, which leads to low visibility and serious health risks for the population. A recent study published in Nature outlines a newly discovered mechanism that may play a key role in the continued survival of particles in wintertime smog.
Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have developed a new method to analyse particulate matter more precisely than ever before. With its help, they disproved an established doctrine: that molecules in aerosols undergo no further chemical transformations because they are enclosed in other particulate matter.
In contrast to nitrogen oxides, modern gasoline cars emit much more cancerogenic primary soot (black carbon + primary organic aerosol) and lead to more toxic secondary organic aerosol than modern diesel vehicles.
Clouds consist of tiny droplets. These droplets form when water condenses around so-called aerosols – small particles in the atmosphere. To understand how in turn aerosols come into existence scientists have now created a comprehensive computer model simulation based on profound experimental data. This simulation revealed that in addition to sulphuric acid, two other substances are crucially involved in the formation of aerosols: organic compounds and ammonia. These results have now been published in the renowned journal Science.