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Paper from EU’s Dr. Gerald Hoffman published in prestigious Journal of Physical Chemistry


A research paper co-authored by Dr. Gerald Hoffman, associate professor of Chemistry at Edinboro University, was recently published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry. Titled “Atmospheric Significance of Water Clusters and Ozone-Water Complexes,” the research has gotten a lot of attention since its publication, ranking among the most-viewed and downloaded papers from the prestigious journal for the month of October.

“The publication in the Journal of Physical Chemistry came out of the work I started with collaborators at Purdue University during a sabbatical leave in the spring semester of 2011,” Dr. Hoffman said. “My sabbatical experience with Purdue professors Joe Francisco and Lyudmila Slipchenko opened new horizons in my research. I think it's safe to say that no other paper I've co-authored has received that kind of attention before.”

The point of the research, in Hoffman’s words, was to “determine the structures and prevalence of ozone complexes with water clusters.”

“Most people know that ozone is a small-but-important component in the atmosphere. At high altitudes it filters out dangerous ultraviolet radiation from the sun. At low altitudes it's a dangerous pollutant that exacerbates the photochemistry involved in the formation of smog,” he continued. “People also know that there's water vapor in the atmosphere. The water molecules in the atmosphere can form clusters fairly easily, as the attraction between water molecules is quite strong. If the clusters become large enough, they form droplets, such as the ones that form in fog or clouds.”

Hoffman continued, “Given the importance of ozone and the prevalence of water in the atmosphere, the specifics of how ozone can bind to water clusters is relevant to its reactivity in the atmosphere.”

The wider implications of the research remain to be explored.

“We have just taken the first step in understanding how ozone interacts with water clusters,” Hoffman said. “Answering the question of how the presence of water affects ozone’s reactivity is further down the road, and a much harder nut to crack.”

The research was conducted and the resultant paper co-authored by Hoffman, Slipchenko, Francisco and Josep M. Anglada, Marilia M.Costa and Manuel F. Ruiz-Lo´pez.

“This is excellent research in an excellent journal,” Dr. Nathan Ritchey, Dean of Edinboro University’s College of Science and Health Professions, said of Hoffman’s research.

Hoffman, who has taught at Edinboro for 13 years and lives in Washington Township with his partner of 18 years, Brian How, is currently working on a second manuscript – this one about water clusters and the hydroxyl radical (OH), a minor component in the atmosphere that plays an important role in atmospheric chemistry.  “Hopefully, it will be as successful as the ozone paper,” he said.