Formation, photochemistry and fate of gas-phase peroxyl radicals

Study level


Master of Philosophy


Vacation research experience scheme

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Professor Stephen Blanksby
Director, Central Analytical Research Facility
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


The gas-phase chemical reactions of organic peroxyl radicals control the combustion efficiency of engines and influence the chemical and physical composition of the Earth’s atmosphere. Despite their central importance, these reaction intermediates have proven elusive; with limited experimental observations of the radicals themselves and the complex reaction networks governing their formation and fate. This study will deploy two advanced mass spectrometric methods to isolate and interrogate the chemical and photochemical reactions of peroxyl radicals in the gas phase. Direct measurement of reaction kinetics and spectroscopy will benchmark computational models that will ultimately further our understanding of chemistry in the troposphere.

Research activities

This project provides a unique opportunity for an enthusiastic and ambitious student to work in the state-of-the-art Mass Spectrometry Development Laboratory within the Central Analytical Research Facility and develop high-level skills in advanced instrumentation, spectral interpretation and analysis and molecular modelling. The project includes strong national and international linkages providing the opportunity to work alongside global leaders in instrumentation, atmospheric chemistry and combustion. It may also include opportunities for international travel.


Air pollution is on track to become one of the major environmental causes of premature death. The chemical reactions taking place in the lower atmosphere that contribute to air quality in both clean and polluted environments are largely directed through reaction intermediates known as organic peroxyl radicals. This project will provide new understanding of how peroxyl radical reactions modulate the composition of air and this knowledge will ultimately inform strategies to improve air quality.

Skills and experience

Enthusiastic students who have strong backgrounds in physical and physical organic chemistry are encouraged to apply. Direct experience, or demonstrated aptitude to acquire knowledge, in advanced instrumentation is desirable. Understanding of chemical reaction mechanisms and experience in molecular modelling will also be viewed favourably.


You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round



Contact the supervisor for more information.