Date of Award

Spring 2003

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Director

Leposava Vuskovic

Committee Member

Anatoly V. Radyushkin

Committee Member

Charles I. Sukenik

Committee Member

Paul E. Ulmer

Committee Member

Karl H. Schoenbach


The reaction rate coefficients between the hydronium ion and the molecules ethene (C2H4), propene (C3H6), 1-butene (C4H8) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) were measured at 296 K. The measured reaction rates were compared to collision rates calculated using average dipole orientation (ADO) theory. Reaction efficiency depends primarily upon the proton affinity of the molecules. All the measurements were obtained using the newly developed microwave cavity discharge flowing afterglow (MCD-FA) apparatus. This device uses an Asmussen-type microwave cavity discharge ion source that is spatially separated from the flow tube, eliminating many of the problems inherent with the original FA devices. In addition to measuring reaction rate coefficients, the MCD-FA was shown to be an effective tool for measuring trace compounds in atmospheric air. This method has many advantages over current detection techniques since compounds can be detected in almost real time, large mass ranges can be scanned quickly, and repeated calibration is not required. Preliminary measurements were made of car exhaust and exhaled alveolar air. Car exhaust showed the presence of numerous hydrocarbons, such as butene, benzene and toluene while the exhaled alveolar air showed the presence of various volatile organic compounds such as methanol and acetone.


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