Research Chemist Erin Durke.

Research Chemist Erin Durke. (Photo by Jack Bunja.)

Researcher Acknowledged for Outstanding Presentation at International Conference

Researcher Acknowledged for Outstanding Presentation at International Conference

By Gay Pinder

For Erin Durke, Ph.D., a U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Chemical Biological Center In-house Laboratory Independent Research (ILIR) project turned out to be an international sensation. While attending her first International Conference on Aerosol Science and Technology in Prague, Czechia, in September, Durke won an award for outstanding work.

“I was really excited to showcase some of the fundamental work we are doing at the Center. Being acknowledged for it was just icing on the cake.”

Durke’s presentation, Characterization of Particle Charge from Aerosol Generation Process: Impact on Infrared Signatures and Material Reactivity, focused on her research investigating the surface charge of aerosol particles.

“We study it in a more non-traditional way than most aerosol researchers,” Durke said. “We use transmission infrared spectroscopy, and we’ve been able to show differences in the spectra for powdered material versus aerosolized materials.

We’ve also been able to use infrared spectroscopy to identify differences in the reactivity of the material
as a function of aerosolization.”

As Durke mentions, many researchers remove or neutralize the charge on aerosol particles before characterization, however, the charge is present in real-world samples and likely has an effect on the physical and chemical properties of an aerosolized material.

In the battlefield, warfighters may come into contact with aerosols in a number of ways, perhaps via material that has been released from explosive munition or smoke canisters,
for example.

“As we develop new techniques or instrumentation for detection, decontamination or protection, the inherent differences in aerosolized challenges should be considered as they may result in deviations in behavior, when compared to other states of matter. It is important that we are aware of these differences and are able to account for them.” Durke explained.

Durke describes her current research as basic, but says understanding those fundamental changes because of additional surface charge on the material is important.

“It can drive a lot of the research and development that we do here at the Center, specifically when we are talking about aerosols,” Durke said.

Durke’s presentation won over approximately two dozen other presentations. She received a certificate to commemorate her win.

Research Chemist Erin Durke. (Photo by Jack Bunja.)