Sun shifts atoms, spreads pollution

Researchers have discovered a startling new mechanism where sunlight can rearrange the atoms of molecules to form new chemical substances.

It has implications for the extent that pollutants are dispersed across the Earth’s surface, and how quickly they are removed.

Until now, chemical models of the atmosphere assumed a molecule emitted into the atmosphere stays fixed as that molecule, until it is either photolysed (broken up) by sunlight, or attacked by other molecules.

Professor Kable and Dr Jordan have now overturned this theory using a common, small pollutant molecule, acetaldehyde, in a lab-based experiment that substituted a laser light for the sun.

Read more at University of Sydney