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ES 418: Aerosol Physics and Chemistry

Course Title

Aerosol Physics and Chemistry

Course Code

ES 418

Course Type




Year / Semester

1st / 1st    (Subject to change)  

Instructor’s Name

George Biskos (Lead instructor)



Lectures / week

1 (3h)

Laboratories / week


Course Purpose and Objectives

The objective of the course is to provide the fundamental aspects of aerosol science and technology, with a strong emphasis on atmospheric aerosols. Starting with the basic concepts of aerosols and how to express their key properties (i.e., concentration, size, morphology and density of aerosol particles), the course will provide the basic knowledge for understanding a range of atmospheric processes involving aerosol particles including their interaction with water vapor and their formation from species in the gas phase (i.e., nucleation).

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course students should be have a good understanding of the basic aerosol properties and how these can be described in a concise manner, the types of motion of particles suspended in gases and how these can be used in aerosol measurement techniques, as well as the key processes through which aerosol particles evolve in the atmosphere and thus affect its properties. After following the course, the students will be familiar with all the necessary tools for conducting both experiments and calculations for physical and chemical processes involving atmospheric aerosols, and interpreting the results.




Course Content

1.  Introduction and fundamental concepts

1.1  Basic properties of particles: size, morphology, and density

1.2  Basic properties of gases

1.3  Aerosol concentrations

2.  Uniform particle motion

2.1  Newton’s and Stoke’s laws

2.2  Terminal velocity and particle mobility

2.3  Slip correction factor

2.4  Aerodynamic and electrical mobility diameter

3.  Accelerated and curvilinear particle motion

3.1  Relaxation time

3.2  Straight-line acceleration and stopping distance

3.3  Curvilinear particle motion and Stokes number

3.4  Inertial, cascade and virtual impactors

4.  Particle size statistics

4.1  Basic properties of size distributions

4.2  Moment averages and moment distributions

4.3  The log-normal distribution

4.4  Statistical accuracy

5.  Brownian motion and diffusion

5.1  Diffusion coefficient

5.2  Particle mean free path

5.3  Brownian displacement and diffusional deposition

5.4  Diffusion batteries

6.  Sampling and concentration measurements

6.1  Isokinetic sampling: sampling in still and moving air

6.2  Particle transport losses

6.3  Measurement of particle mass concentration

6.4  Measurement of number concentration

7.  Aerosol thermodynamics

7.1  Basic thermodynamic principles

7.2  Condensation and evaporation on/from aerosol particles

7.3  The Kelvin effect

7.4  Thermodynamics of atmospheric aerosols: particle hygroscopicity and Cloud Condensation Nuclei (CCN) activity

8.  New particle formation

8.1  Classical homogeneous nucleation theory

8.2  Binary and ion-induced nucleation

8.3  Experimental measurement of nucleation rates

Teaching Methodology



1) Hind W.C., Aerosol Technology: Properties, Behavior, and Measurements of Airborne Particles, Willey, 483 pp.

2) Seinfeld J.H. and Pandis S.N., Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Willey, 2006, pp 1203.


Coursework and exam



Publications & Media