Math & Science Department (SURI)


Investigating Freezing Point Depression and Cirrus Cloud Nucleation Mechanisms Using a Differential Scanning Calorimeter

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A differential scanning calorimeter was used to study homogeneous nucleation of ice from micron-sized aqueous ammonium sulfate aerosol particles. It is important to understand the conditions at which these particles nucleate ice because of their connection to cirrus cloud formation. Additionally, the concept of freezing point depression, a topic commonly encountered in undergraduate science courses, was experimentally studied using an instrumental technique. As expected, when the concentration of ammonium sulfate in the particles increased, their freezing and melting temperatures decreased. The data was consistent with previous work that showed water activity is the determinant for homogeneous ice nucleation in aerosol particles. This laboratory experiment is appropriate for students enrolled in upper division atmospheric science, chemistry and instrumental analysis courses.


This article was published in Journal of Chemical Education.

Bodzewski, K. Y., Caylor, R. L., Comstock, A. M., Hadley, A. T., Imholt, F. M., Kirwan, K. D., Oyama, K. S., Wise, M. E. (2016). Investigating freezing point depression and cirrus cloud nucleation mechanisms using a differential scanning calorimeter. Journal of Chemical Education, 93(4), 729-732. doi:10.1021/acs.jchemed.5b00663