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 (PSI).
Understanding the processes determining the gas and aerosol chemistry and aerosol physics in the atmosphere in order to determine (1) the impact of energy use on the atmosphere and (2) the impact of pollution on air quality, human health, local weather and climate change.
Our laboratory consists of four interacting groups that operates cutting-edge facilities and instrumentations in the lab and in the field. We run three National facilities, two ambient observatories and an atmospheric chamber facility, that are foreseen to be included in the ACTRIS European research infrastructure. We study the impact of anthropogenic air pollution across environments ranging from cities in Europe and developing countries (e.g. India and China) to pristine areas (e.g. in polar regions and in the free troposphere). We are continuously measuring key climate variables relevant for aerosol properties at the landmark high-alpine Jungfraujoch research site in Switzerland. We simulate the processes occurring in the atmosphere in our smog chamber facility and during experiments at the CLOUD chamber at CERN. Field and laboratory data are interpreted and air pollution sources are quantified with numerical and statistical models. We collaborate with toxicologists, epidemiologists and medical doctors to understand the impact of air pollution on health.
News & Highlights
Atmospheric scientist Julia Schmale is starting out on a three-month research cruise around the Antarctic. There she will be searching for the cleanest air still to be found on our planet.
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.
Aerosols, suspended fine liquid or solid particles in the air we breathe, play a central role in many environmental processes through their influence on climate, the hydrological cycle, and their adverse effects on human health. While the mechanisms by which aerosol particles affect our health remain uncertain, the atmospheric oxidation of organic vapors has been shown to be related to the formation of oxygenated organic matter with high oxidative potential, the so-called reactive oxygen species (ROS).