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Open Access Quantifying Isotopic Signatures of N2O Using Quantum Cascade Laser Absorption Spectroscopy

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Nitrous oxide, N2O, is the environmentally most relevant constituent of the biogeochemical nitrogen cycle. Human activities, e.g. the agricultural use of mineral fertilizers, accelerate nitrogen transformations, leading to higher emissions of this strong greenhouse gas. Investigating the stable isotopic composition of N2O provides a better understanding of formation mechanisms to disentangle its variable source and sink processes. Mid-infrared (mid-IR) laser spectroscopy is a highly attractive technique to analyze N2O isotopocules based on their specific ro-vibrational absorption characteristics. Specifically, quantum cascade laser absorption spectroscopy (QCLAS) in combination with preconcentration has shown to be powerful for simultaneous and high-precision analysis of the main N2O isotopocules. Recently, in the scope of my PhD project, we have been advancing this analytical technique for the analysis of the very rare doubly substituted N2O isotopic species 15N14N18O, 14N15N18O, and 15N15N16O, also known as clumped isotopes. Currently, we are investigating the potential of these novel isotopic tracers to track the complex N2O production and consumption pathways. Improved understanding of the nitrogen cycle will be a major step towards N2O emission reduction.

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Keywords: BIOGEOCHEMICAL NITROGEN CYCLE; CLUMPED ISOTOPES; GREENHOUSE GAS; LASER SPECTROSCOPY; NITROUS OXIDE

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Laboratory for Air Pollution / Environmental Technology, Empa – Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Überlandstrasse 129, CH-8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland 2: Geological Institute, Department of Earth Sciences, ETH Zürich, Sonneggstrasse 5, CH-8092 Zürich, Switzerland 3: Laboratory for Air Pollution / Environmental Technology, Empa – Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, Überlandstrasse 129, CH-8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland [email protected]

Publication date: April 1, 2019

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  • International Journal for Chemistry and Official Membership Journal of the Swiss Chemical Society (SCS) and its Divisions

    CHIMIA, a scientific journal for chemistry in the broadest sense, is published 10 times a year and covers the interests of a wide and diverse readership. Contributions from all fields of chemistry and related areas are considered for publication in the form of Review Articles and Notes. A characteristic feature of CHIMIA are the thematic issues, each devoted to an area of great current significance.

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