NERC Grant Awarded
18 November 2011
Dr Phil Davies & Prof Gary Attard from the School of Chemistry, in collaboration with Dr Steven Barker from Earth Sciences have been awarded a studentship by NERC to develop a novel technique for studying the dissolution of carbonates under realistic conditions. Marine carbonate represents a fundamental component of the global carbon cycle by providing a means of balancing the oceanic alkalinity budget. Continued anthropogenic emission of CO2 is leading to a phenomenon known as ocean acidification (OA), which is effectively lowering the saturation state of the oceans with respect to carbonate the resulting effects are difficult to predict because our understanding of the carbonate balance under realistic conditions is relatively poor.1 the aim of the new project is to develop an in situ probe of carbonate dissolution that can address, at a molecular level, the mechanistic questions raised by the need to understand the carbon balance in the deep oceans. Surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) will be used to monitor the behaviour of carbonate shells grown on custom made gold nanoparticles. The ability to manipulate the structure and habit of the carbonate in these systems will allow an exploration of the influence of factors such as high temperature and high pressure on dissolution rates in situ.
Fig 1. The way in which the SERS signal is expected to vary with the thickness of the carbonate shell around a gold nanocrystal.
Fig 2. SEM images of a carbonate core shell grown around a gold nanoparticle. The sample was developed by Charlie Davis who recently started work on the NERC grant.