Carnegie Mellon University Department of Chemistry
photo of Neil Donahue

Neil Donahue

Thomas Lord Professor in Chemistry, Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Engineering and Public Policy; Director, Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research

Carnegie Mellon University

email:

Phone: (412) 268-4415

Fax: (412) 268-7139

Office: Doherty Hall 2116

ORCID: 0000-0003-3054-2364
Researcher ID: A-2329-2008
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The Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies

Faculty & Research

Neil Donahue

Thomas Lord Professor in Chemistry, Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Engineering and Public Policy; Director, Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research

Research Areas

Atmospheric chemistry, organic aerosol, kinetics, reaction dynamics, radical-molecule reactivity, ozonolysis, mass spectrometry

Atmospheric Chemistry: Ozonolysis and Organic Aerosols.

His principal interest is in the oxidation chemistry of Earth's atmosphere — specifically the oxidation of organic compounds and the associate radical processes in the atmosphere. Two closely connected areas are ozonolysis chemistry and the chemistry controlling organic-aerosol levels and properties in the atmosphere. Aerosols — fine particulate matter, or PM — are of interest for two major reasons: particles play a central role in climate, and they kill people. The leading uncertainty on the forcing side of climate science is the degree to which cloud properties have changed between 1850 and now due to changes in the number concentrations of fine, water-soluble particles that act as cloud-condensation nuclei (CCN). Also, approximately 50,000 people die prematurely each year in the U.S. alone from inhalation of elevated levels of fine PM. More than half of the fine PM mass is composed of a very complex mixture of highly oxidized organic compounds. They are water soluble and have unknown health effects but appear to correlate positively with observed health endpoints.

Recent research largely directed by Prof. Donahue within the Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies (CAPS) has established that organic aerosol exists in a dynamic balance connecting phase partitioning and oxidation chemistry. Oxidation of large, reduced organics typical of fresh emissions tends to functionalize the carbon backbone, leading to lower vapor pressure products that spend more time in the particulate (condensed) phase, but continued oxidation tends to fragment the carbon backbone as it drives the products towards the oxidative endpoint — CO2. Understanding this multiphase chemistry in the extremely rich and complex mixture that is organic aerosol is a major current research focus.

In parallel, the Donahue group is pursuing the short-lived intermediates involved in gas-phase ozonolysis chemistry, including the carbonyl-oxide (Criegee Intermediate). Reactions in the gas phase show a strong dependence on both pressure and the carbon number because energy transfer from highly-excited reaction products via collisions with the bath gas is inefficient. The group uses both experimental (spectroscopic) and theoretical (quantum chemistry coupled to statistical reaction dynamics) tools to probe the nature and fate of these intermediates.

Education and Appointments
Years Position or Degree
2015–present Thomas Lord Professor in Chemistry, Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Engineering and Public Policy
2013–present Director, Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research
2008–2015 Professor of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Engineering and Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon University
2005–2008 Associate Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University
2005–2013 Director, Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies
2000–2005 Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University
1991–2000 Postdoctoral Associate and Research Scientist, Harvard University
1991 Ph.D. Meteorology, MIT
Awards and Distinctions
Years Award
2017 Carnegie Science Award, Environmental Award
2017 2017 Esselen Award, Northeastern Section of the American Chemical Society
2016 ACS Pittsburgh Award
2011 Fellow, American Geophysical Union
2010 Carnegie Institute of Technology Outstanding Research Award
1991–1993 DOE Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow
1985–1988 NASA Graduate Student Researcher
1985 MIT Jule Charney Award
Selected Publications

Single-particle measurements of semi-volatile secondary organic aerosol mixing versus relative humidity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113, 12649–12654 (Q. Ye, E. S. Robinson, P. Ye, X. Ding, R. C. Sullivan, and N. M. Donahue) 2016.

Low-volatility organic compounds are key to initial particle growth in the atmosphere. Nature 530, 527–531 (J. Tröstl, W. K. Chuang, M. Heinritzi, C. Yan, U. Molteni, L. Ahlm, C. Frege, F. Bianchi, R. Wagner, M. Simon, K. Lehtipalo, C. Williamson, J. S. Craven, J. Duplissy, A. Adamov, J. Almeida, A.-K. Bernhammer, M. Breitenlechner, S. Brilke, A. Dias, S. Ehrhart, R. C. Flagan, A. Franchin, C. Fuchs, H. Gordon, R. Guida, M. Gysel, A. Hansel, C. R. Hoyle, T. Jokinen, H. Junninen, J. Kangasluoma, H. Keskinen, J. Kim, M. Krapf, A. Kürten, A. Laaksonen, M. Lawler, M. Leiminger, S. Mathot, O. Möhler, T. Nieminen, A. Onnela, T. Petäjä F. M. Piel, P. Miettinen, M. P. Rissanen, L. Rondo, N. Sarnela, S. Schobesberger, K. Sengupta, M. Sipilä, J. N. Smith, G. Steiner, A. Tomè, A. Virtanen, A. C. Wagner, E. Weingartner, D. Wimmer, P. M. Winkler, P. Ye, K. S. Carslaw, J. Curtius, J. Dommen, J. Kirkby, M. Kulmala, I. Riipinen, D. R. Worsnop, N. M. Donahue, and U. Baltensperger) 2016.

Ion-induced nucleation of pure biogenic particles. Nature 530, 521–526 (J.Kirkby, J.Duplissy, K.Sengupta, C. Frege, H. Gordon, C. Williamson, M. Heinritzi, M. Simon, C. Yan, J. Almeida, J. Tröstl, T. Nieminen, I. K. Ortega, R. Wagner, A. Adamov, A. Amorim, A.-K. Bernhammer, F. Bianchi, M. Breitenlechner, S. Brilke, X. Chen, J. Craven, A. Dias, S. Ehrhart, R. C. Flagan, A. Franchin, C. Fuchs, R. Guida, J. Hakala, C. R. Hoyle, T. Jokinen, H. Junninen, J. Kangasluoma, J. Kim, M. Krapf, A. Kürten, A. Laaksonen, K. Lehtipalo, V. Makhmutov, S. Mathot, U. Molteni, A. Onnela, O. Peräkylä, F. Piel, T. Petäjä, A. P. Praplan, K. Pringle, A. Rap, N. A. Richards, I. Riipinen, M. P. Rissanen, L. Rondo, N. Sarnela, S. Schobesberger, C. E. Scott, J. H. Seinfeld, M. Sipilä, G. Steiner, Y. Stozhkov, F. Stratmann, A. Tomè, A. Virtanen, A. L. Vogel, A. Wagner, P. E. Wagner, E. Wein- gartner, D. Wimmer, P. M. Winkler, P. Ye, X. Zhang, A. Hansel, J. Dommen, N. M. Donahue, D. R. Worsnop, U. Baltensperger, M. Kulmala, K. S. Carslaw, and J. Curtius) 2016.

Global atmospheric particle formation from CERN CLOUD measurements. Science 354, 1119–1124 (E. M. Dunne, H. Gordon, A. Kürten, J. Almeida, J. Duplissy, C. Williamson, I. K. Ortega, K. J. Pringle, A. Adamov, U. Baltensperger, P. Barmet, F. Benduhn, F. Bianchi, M. Breitenlechner, A. Clarke, J. Curtius, J. Dommen, N. M. Donahue, S. Ehrhart, R. C. Flagan, A. Franchin, R. Guida, J. Hakala, A. Hansel, M. Heinritzi, T. Jokinen, J. Kangasluoma, J. Kirkby, M. Kulmala, A. Kupc, M. J. Lawler, K. Lehtipalo, V. Makhmutov, G. Mann, S. Mathot, J. Merikanto, P. Miettinen, A. Nenes, A. Onnela, A. Rap, C. L. S. Reddington, F. Riccobono, N. A. D. Richards, M. P. Rissanen, L. Rondo, N. Sarnela, S. Schobesberger, K. Sengupta, M. Simon, M. Sipilä, J. N. Smith, Y. Stozkhov, A. Tomè, J. Tröstl, P. E. Wagner, D. Wimmer, P. M. Winkler, D. R. Worsnop, and K. S. Carslaw) 2016.

Reduced anthropogenic aerosol radiative forcing caused by biogenic new particle formation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113, 12053–12058 (H. Gordon, K. Sengupta, A. Rap, J. Duplissy, C. Frege, C. Williamson, M. Heinritzi, M. Simon, C. Yan, J. Almeida, J. Tröstl, T. Nieminen, I. K. Ortega, R. Wagner, E. M. Dunne, A. Adamov, A. Amorim, A.-K. Bernhammer, F. Bianchi, M. Breitenlechner, S. Brilke, X. Chen, J. S. Craven, A. Dias, S. Ehrhart, L. Fischer, R. C. Flagan, A. Franchin, C. Fuchs, R. Guida, J. Hakala, C. R. Hoyle, T. Jokinen, H. Junninen, J. Kangasluoma, J. Kim, J. Kirkby, M. Krapf, A. Kürten, A. Laaksonen, K. Lehtipalo, V. Makhmutov, S. Mathot, U. Molteni, S. A. Monks, A. Onnela, O. Peräkylä, F. Piel, T. Petäjä, A. P. Praplan, K. J. Pringle, N. A. D. Richards, M. P. Rissanen, L. Rondo, N. Sarnela, S. Schobesberger, C. E. Scott, J. H. Seinfeld, S. Sharma, M. Sipilä, G. Steiner, Y. Stozhkov, F. Stratmann, A. Tomè, A. Virtanen, A. L. Vogel, A. C. Wagner, P. E. Wagner, E. Weingartner, D. Wimmer, P. M. Winkler, P. Ye, X. Zhang, A. Hansel, J. Dommen, N. M. Donahue, D. R. Worsnop, U. Baltensperger, M. Kulmala, J. Curtius, and K. S. Carslaw) 2016.

Neutral molecular cluster formation of sulfuric acid-dimethylamine observed in real time under atmo- spheric conditions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111, 15019–15024 (A. Kürten, T. Jokinen, M. Simon, M. Sipilä, N. Sarnela, H. Junninen, A. Adamov, J. Almeida, A. Amorim, F. Bianchi, M. Breitenlechner, J. Dommen, N. M. Donahue, J. Duplissy, S. Ehrhart, R. C. Flagan, A. Franchin, J. Hakala, A. Hansel, M. Heinritzi, M. Hutterli, A. Laaksonen, K. Lehtipalo, M. Leiminger, V. Makhmutov, S. Mathot, A. Onnela, T. Petäjä, A. P. Praplan, L. Rondo, S. Schobesberger, J. H. Seinfeld, F. Stratmann, A. Tomè, J. Tröstl, P. E. Wagner, E. Weingartner, C. Williamson, D. Wimmer, P. Ye, U. Baltensperger, K. S. Carslaw, M. Kulmala, D. R. Worsnop, J. Kirkby, and J. Curtius) 2014.

Brownness of organics in aerosols from biomass burning linked to their black carbon content. Nature Geoscience 7, 647–650 (R. Saleh, E. S. Robinson, D. S. Tkacik, A. T. Ahern, S. Liu, A. Aiken, R. C. Sullivan, A. A. Presto, M. K. Dubey, R. J. Yokelson, N. M. Donahue, and A. L. Robinson) 2014.

Unspeciated organic emissions from combustion sources and their influence on the secondary organic aerosol budget in the united states. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111, 10473–10478 (S. H. Jathar, T. D. Gordon, C. J. Hennigan, H. O. T. Pye, G. Pouliot, P. J. Adams, N. M. Donahue, and A. L. Robinson) 2014.

Nucleation rates from mixtures of sulfuric acid vapors and terpene oxidation products. Science 344, 717–721 (F. Riccobono, S. Schobesberger, C. E. Scott, J. Dommen, I. K. Ortega, L. Rondo, J. Almeida, A. Amorim, F. Bianchi, M. Breitenlechner, A. David, A. Downard, E. Dunne, J. Duplissy, S. Ehrhart, R. C. Flagan, A. Franchin, A. Hansel, H. Junninen, M. Kajos, H. Keskinen, A. Kupc, O. Kupiainen, A. Kürten, T. Kurtén, A. N. Kvashin, A. Laaksonen, K. Lehtipalo, V. Makhmutov, S. Mathot, T. Nieminen, T. Olenius, A. Onnela, T. Petäjä, A. P. Praplan, F. D. Santos, S. Schallhart, J. H. Seinfeld, M. Sipilä, D. V. Spracklen, Y. Stozhkov, F. Stratmann, A. Tomè, G. Tsagkogeorgas, P. Vaattovaara, H. Vehkamäki, Y. Viisanen, A. Vrtala, P. E. Wagner, E. Weingartner, H. Wex, D. Wimmer, K. S. Carslaw, J. Curtius, N. M. Donahue, J. Kirkby, M. Kulmala, D. R. Worsnop, and U. Baltensperger) 2014.

Molecular understanding of atmospheric particle formation from sulfuric acid and large oxidized organic molecules. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110, 17223–17228 (S. Schobesberger, H. Junninen, F. Bianchi, G. Lönn, M. Ehn, K. Lehtipalo, J. Dommen, S. Ehrhart, I. K. Ortega, A. Franchin, T. Nieminen, F. Riccobono, M. Hutterli, J. Duplissy, J. Almeida, A. Amorim, M. Breitenlechner, A. J. Downard, E. M. Dunne, R. C. Flagan, M. Kajos, H. Keskinen, J. Kirkby, A. Kupc, A. Kürten, T. Kurtén, A. Laaksonen, S. Mathot, A. Onnela, A. P. P. L. Rondo, F. D. Santos, S. Schallhart, R. Schnitzhofer, M. Sipilä, A. Tomè, G. Tsagkogeorgas, H. Vehkamäki, D. Wimmer, U. Baltensperger, K. S. Carslaw, J. Curtius, A. Hansel, T. Petäjä, M. Kulmala, N. M. Donahue, and D. R. Worsnop) 2013.

Aging of biogenic secondary organic aerosol via gas-phase OH radical reactions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109, 13503–13508 (N. M. Donahue, K. M. Henry, T. F. Mentel, A. K. Scharr, C. Spindler, B. Bohn, T. Brauers, H. P. Dorn, H. Fuchs, R. Tillmann, A. Wahner, H. Saathoff, K. H. Naumann, O. Möhler, T. Leisner, L. Müller, M.-C. Reinnig, T. Hoffmann, K. Salow, M. Hallquist, M. Frosch, M. Bilde, T. Tritscher, P. Barmet, A. P. Praplan, P. F. DeCarlo, J. Dommen, A. S. H. Prévôt, and U. Baltensperger) 2012.

Contribution of organics to atmospheric nanoparticle growth. Nature Geoscience 5, 453–458 (I. Riipinen, T. Yli-Juuti, J. R. Pierce, T. Petäjä, D. R. Worsnop, M. Kulmala, and N. M. Donahue) 2012.

Carbon oxidation state as a metric for describing the chemistry of atmospheric organic aerosol. Nature Chemistry 3, 133–139 (J. H. Kroll, N. M. Donahue, J. L. Jimenez, S. Kessler, M. R. Canagaratna, K. Wilson, K. E. Alteri, L. R. Mazzoleni, A. S. Wozniak, H. Bluhm, E. R. Mysak, J. D. Smith, C. E. Kolb, and D. R. Worsnop) 2011.

Evolution of organic aerosols in the atmosphere. Science 326, 1525–1529 (J. L. Jimenez, M. R. Canagaratna, N. M. Donahue, A. S. H. Prévôt, Q. Zhang, J. H. Kroll, P. F. DeCarlo, J. Allan, H. Coe, N. L. Ng, A. C. Aiken, K. D. Docherty, I. M. Ulbrich, A. P. Grieshop, A. L. Robinson, J. Duplissy, J. D. Smith, K. R. Wilson, V. A. Lanz, C. Hueglin, Y. L. Sun, A. Laaksonen, T. Raatikainen, J. Rautiainen, P. Vaattovaara, M. Ehn, M. Kulmala, J. M. Tomlinson, D. R. Collins, M. J. Cubison, E. J. Dunlea, J. A. Huffman, T. B. Onasch, M. R. Alfarra, P. I. Williams, K. Bower, Y. Kondo, J. Schneider, F. Drewnick, S. Borrmann, S. Weimer, K. Demerjian, D. Salcedo, L. Cottrell, R. Griffin, A. Takami, T. Miyoshi, S. Hatakeyama, A. Shimono, J. Y. Sun, Y. M. Zhang, K. Dzepina, J. R. Kimmel, D. Sueper, J. T. Jayne, S. C. Herndon, A. M. Trimborn, L. R. Williams, E. C. Wood, C. E. Kolb, U. Baltensperger, and D. R. Worsnop) 2009.

Rethinking organic aerosols: Semivolatile emissions and photochemical aging. Science 315, 1259– 1263 (A. L. Robinson, N. M. Donahue, M. K. Shrivastava, A. M. Sage, E. A. Weitkamp, A. P. Grieshop, T. E. Lane, J. R. Pierce, and S. N. Pandis) 2007.