Date of Thesis



The vibrational excitation of CO2 by a fast-moving O atom followed by infrared emission from the vibrationally excited CO2 has been shown to be an important cooling mechanism in the upper atmospheresof Venus, Earth and Mars. We are trying to determine more precisely the efficiency (rate coefficient) of the CO2-O vibrational energy transfer. For experimental ease the reverse reaction is used, i.e. collision of a vibrationally excited CO2 with atomic O, where we are able to convert to the atmospherically relevant reaction via a known equilibrium constant. The goal of this experiment was to measure the magnitudes of rate coefficients for vibrational energy states above the first excited state, a bending mode in CO2. An isotope of CO2, 13CO2, was used for experimental ease. The rate coefficients for given vibrational energy transfers in 13CO2 are not significantly different from 12CO2 at this level of precision. A slow-flowing gas mixture was flowed through a reaction cell: 13CO2 (vibrational specie of interest), O3(atomic O source), and Ar (bath gas). Transient diode laser absorption spectroscopy was used to monitor thechanging absorption of certain vibrational modes of 13CO2 after a UV pulse from a Nd:YAG laser was fired. Ozone absorbed the UV pulse in a process which vibrationally excited 13CO2 and liberated atomic O.Transient absorption signals were obtained by tuning the diode laser frequency to an appropriate ν3 transition and monitoring the population as a function of time following the Nd:YAG pulse. Transient absorption curves were obtained for various O atom concentrations to determine the rate coefficient of interest. Therotational states of the transitions used for detection were difficult to identify, though their short reequilibration timescale made the identification irrelevant for vibrational energy transfer measurements. The rate coefficient for quenching of the (1000) state was found to be (4 ± 8) x 10-12 cm3 s-1 which is the same order of magnitude as the lowest-energy bend-excited mode: (1.8 ± 0.3) x 10-12 cm3 s-1. More data is necessary before it can be certain that the numerical difference between the two is real.


Vibrational energy transfer, CO2-O, 13CO2, O, VET, aeronomy, Mars, Venus, Earth, atmospheric cooling, spectroscopy

Access Type

Honors Thesis


Physics & Astronomy

First Advisor

Karen Janene Castle



Included in

Physics Commons