Single Particle Measurements of Aerosols for Informed Solar Radiation Management

  • Awardees
  • Thomas Preston, Ph.D. McGill University
  • Alison Bain, Ph.D. Oregon State University
  • James Davies, Ph.D. University of California, Riverside
Year Awarded


Stratospheric aerosol injection (SAI) involves delivering particles into the stratosphere to reflect solar radiation, thereby cooling the planet. This method of addressing climate change is of interest due to its demonstrated potential for rapid cooling in nature, as evidenced by the lower temperatures observed following volcanic eruptions. However, understanding the precise effects of SAI is complicated due to the variability in the optical and physical properties of aerosol particles under different atmospheric conditions. This project will utilize cutting-edge laboratory techniques such as aerosol optical tweezers and electrodynamic traps to allow for the detailed study of single aerosol particles, exploring key microphysical properties under stratospheric conditions relevant to SAI. By investigating the wavelength-dependent optical properties and physicochemical behaviors of aerosol particles, we seek to advance our understanding of SAI materials’ viability and inform strategies for mitigating climate change. The research team, with expertise in single-particle experiments, will explore a range of SAI materials, aiming to uncover alternatives to sulfates that may offer better effectiveness and reduced risks.

Thomas Preston is an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at McGill University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia and completed an NSERC postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Bristol. His research focuses on the optical trapping and spectroscopy of single particles, with an interest in understanding the microphysical and chemical processes in atmospheric aerosol particles, along with their optical properties.

Alison Bain uses her training in analytical and physical chemistry to investigate atmospheric aerosol at a fundamental level. Following a Ph.D. at McGill University and a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Bristol, Alison joined the Department of Chemistry at Oregon State University in fall of 2023. Her research uses a combination of novel single-particle techniques, macroscopic measurements and modelling to understand the unique chemical and physical properties of aerosols, which dictate how they interact with our climate.

James Davies joined the Department of Chemistry at the University of California, Riverside in 2018 and is currently an associate professor. He received his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Bristol and completed four years of postdoctoral training at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Davies’ research explores the physical chemistry of aerosol particles using cutting-edge single particle levitation techniques developed in his lab.

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