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Research Fellows Directory

Hendrik Nahler

Dr Hendrik Nahler

Research Fellow


Heriot-Watt University

Research summary

This project investigates reactions at ice surfaces induced by sunlight which are called photochemical reactions. In a laboratory environment we produce ice surfaces under controlled conditions similar to the ones found in the Earth's atmosphere. The reactions are induced by laser light. We follow the reaction by monitoring the initial molecules and the reaction products with laser-spectroscopic methods. These rely on characteristic properties of the molecules similar to fingerprints.

The reactions we are interested in, have been observed during the past decade in field studies carried out in the polar regions where the production of pollutants has a crucial impact on the sensitive eco-system and the analysis of ice cores used in the interpretation of past and prediction of future climate changes. Laboratory studies like the ones carried out in my group enable us to fully understand these reactions in order to simulate them accurately in atmospheric models.

In order to gain the highest-quality results in our ice-surface studies we developed a new detection technique called cavity-enhanced laser-induced fluorescence (CELIF). We successfully used this technique in a pure gas-phase study and managed to detect concentrations 100 times lower than the ones accessible before.

As a scientist working in fundamental research, I see it as my duty to communicate goals, aims and results of my work to the general public. In the past year, I lead the participation of Durham University in the regional selection of the national school science competition 'Big Bang North East'. I organised workshops run by my students for school students in spectroscopy and cryo-chemistry to foster their interest in the subject. As a judge in the competition I was very impressed by the ideas, projects and the enthusiasm of school students some as young as twelve years old. I believe as University Research Fellows it is our duty to encourage and support the next generation of scientists.

Interests and expertise (Subject groups)

Grants awarded

Photochemistry at the air-ice interface

Scheme: University Research Fellowship

Dates: Oct 2012 - Sep 2015

Value: £269,615.89

Photochemistry and dynamics on water ice surfaces

Scheme: University Research Fellowship

Dates: Oct 2007 - Sep 2012

Value: £449,032.40