Air pollution research gets $25M gift beam line

UC Davis researchers came back from the ACE-Asia air survey to an exciting welcome-home gift: management of a $25 million beam line at the Advanced Light Source in Berkeley, which they will use to analyze the ACE-Asia data.

The ALS, located at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and owned by the U.S. Department of Energy, generates intense beams of light, from ultra-violet to X-rays, for research.

UC Davis’ DELTA research group has been the majority user of one of the ALS beam lines; now it will also have control of the beam line’s user schedule, effectively promoting DELTA from renter to landlord.

The DELTA group has pioneered the systematic use of X-ray beam lines for air-pollution analysis. Its first major project was analysis of the aerosols released in the 1991 Kuwaiti oil files. Later projects included visibility studies around Mount Rainier in Washington State in 1993. The group will also use the beam line to study air pollution in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Early this month, UC Davis professor emeritus Tom Cahill convinced the ALS scientific advisory committee to change the line’s use from basic physics research to global-climate and aerosol research. He was supported by Rick Freeman, the Edward Teller Professor of Applied Science and chair of the Department of Applied Science.

Cahill, who technically retired from the departments of physics and land, air and water resources three years ago but in reality has spent most of his waking hours since on air-pollution research, now plans to return to active-professor status and join the applied science department.

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