Center Researcher Acknowledged for Outstanding Presentation at International Conference

CCDC Chemical Biological Center Public Affairs | October 1st, 2019

Research chemist Erin Durke. Photo by Jack Bunja.

Research chemist Erin Durke. Photo by Jack Bunja.

For Erin Durke, Ph.D., a U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Chemical Biological Center In-house Laboratory Independent Research (ILIR) project turned out to be an international sensation. While attending her first International Conference on Aerosol Science and Technology in Prague, Czechia, in September, Durke won an award for outstanding work.

“I was really excited to showcase some of the fundamental work we are doing at the center. Being acknowledged for it was just icing on the cake.”
Durke’s presentation, Characterization of Particle Charge from Aerosol Generation Process: Impact on Infrared Signatures and Material Reactivity focused on her research investigating the surface charge of aerosol particles.

“We study it in a more non-traditional way than most aerosol researchers,” Durke said. “We use transmission infrared spectroscopy, and we’ve been able to show differences in the spectra for powdered material versus aerosolized materials. We’ve also been able to use infrared spectroscopy to identify differences in the reactivity of the material as a function of aerosolization.”

As Durke mentions, many researchers remove or neutralize the charge on aerosol particles before characterization, however, the charge is present in real-world samples and likely has an effect on the physical and chemical properties of an aerosolized material.
In the battlefield, warfighters may come into contact with aerosols in a number of ways, perhaps via material that has been released from explosive munition or smoke canisters, for example.

“As we develop new techniques or instrumentation for detection, decontamination or protection, the inherent differences in aerosolized challenges should be considered as they may result in deviations in behavior, when compared to other states of matter. It is important that we are aware of these differences and are able to account for them.” Durke explained.

Durke describes her current research as basic, but says understanding those fundamental changes because of additional surface charge on the material is important.

“It can drive a lot of the research and development that we do here at the Center, specifically when we are talking about aerosols,” Durke said.
Durke’s presentation won over approximately two dozen other presentations. She received a certificate to commemorate her win.

The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center (CCDC Chemical Biological Center) is the Army’s principal research and development center for chemical and biological defense technology, engineering and field operations. The Center has achieved major technological advances for the warfighter and for our national defense, with a long and distinguished history of providing the armed forces with quality systems and outstanding customer service. The CCDC Chemical Biological Center is located at the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.