We are constantly surrounded by air and air constantly interacts with everything in contact. Air has a high oxidative capacity and can thereby chemically alter materials exposed to it and at the same time materials can influence processes in the air.
Our research group focuses on these interactions between materials and the atmosphere. This includes:
1) The ageing of materials in contact with the atmosphere
2) The formation of ice through ice nucleating materials
3) Ageing of material emissions in the atmosphere and their subsequent formation of aerosols
4) Physico-chemical characterization of materials, aerosols and atmospheric trace gases

What do we do exactly?

We are the lead of a Christian-Doppler Laboratory on the chemical analysis of bituminous materials. Bitumen is a crude oil product, which has a high viscosity and is used as asphalt binder or roofing membranes. We investigate how bitumen ages chemically and how this influences the structure and lifetime of bitumen products such as roads. In a project funded by the Volkswagen Stiftung we will investigate how wooden materials can be added to Bitumen to replace crude oil products in the future. In the same sense, we are also part of another Christian Doppler laboratory exploring wooden composite materials.

We have ongoing projects on the ice nucleation ability of bioaerosols: Ice in the atmosphere is not formed at 0 °C and in the absence of an ice nucleating seed, water droplets would only freeze at -38 °C. Bioaerosols, e.g., pollen or bacteria, can nucleate ice at much higher temperatures, thereby influencing the freezing of clouds and thus their precipitation probability and lifetime. We investigate how ice formation takes place and try to find out why some materials are good ice nucleators while others aren’t. 

We have a Vienna Research Group for Young Investigators integrated in our group which tries to resolve the question of how the outgassing of different urban materials (asphalt, paints, personal care products) age in the atmosphere. Oxygenation of these emissions can drastically lower their vapor pressure thereby these emissions can contribute to the formation of new aerosols in the atmosphere, impacting the urban air quality and the climate footprint of a city.

In our group we use a variety of tools, focusing on spectroscopy for the chemical characterization of materials. We use Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, including ATR and matrix-isolation setups as well as Raman spectroscopy to determine the chemical functionalization of materials. Fluorescence spectroscopy and microscopy are utilized for the investigation of bioaerosols and ice nucleating particles. For the characterization of newly formed aerosols, we have a chemical-ionization atmospheric-pressure interface Orbitrap mass spectrometer and an Electrical Mobility Spectrometer available.


We always have BSc and MSc thesis topics available. Just get in touch!
Currently we offer a PhD candidate Position in the newly formed Vienna Research Group, a PhD candidate position on the ageing of bitumen materials within our CD laboratory and a PhD candidate position for the investigation of wooden materials as bitumen replacement.

Selected recent publications

Lubna Dada, Dominik Stolzenburg et al., Role of sesquiterpenes in biogenic new particle formation, Sci. Adv. 9, eadi5297, https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.adi5297, opens an external URL in a new window, 2023

Stefan Werkovitz et al., The impact of field ageing on molecular structure and chemistry of bitumen, Fuel 343, 127904, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fuel.2023, opens an external URL in a new window.127904, 2023

Teresa Seifried, Florian Reyzek et al., Scots Pines (Pinus sylvestris) as Sources of Biological Ice-Nucleating Macromolecules (INMs), Atmosphere 14(2), 266, https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos14020266, opens an external URL in a new window, 2023

Dennis F. Dinu et al., Increase of Radiative Forcing through Midinfrared Absorption by Stable CO2 Dimers?, J. Phys. Chem. A 126(19), 2966-2975, https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jpca.2c00857, opens an external URL in a new window, 2022

Ayse Koyun et al., Rheological, spectroscopic and microscopic assessment of asphalt binder ageing, Road Materials and Pavement Design 23(1), 80-97, https://doi.org/10.1080/14680629.2020.1820891, opens an external URL in a new window, 2020

Hinrich Grothe and his team sitting on stairs