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Research interests

Dr Michael I. Cotterell (MIC) is an Independent Research Fellow in Physical Chemistry at the University of Bristol. His research interests are concerned with studies of the physicochemical properties and behaviours of aerosols through the development of new spectroscopy tools. After completing his undergraduate MSci Chemical Physics degree at the University of Bristol (2008-2012), he remained at Bristol to complete his PhD in Physical Chemistry under the mentorship of Prof Jonathan Reid and Prof Andrew Orr-Ewing FRS (2012-2016). He then completed a joint postdoctoral research position between the University of Exeter and Met Office (2016-2019) with Prof James Haywood and Dr Justin Langridge. MIC was awarded a prestigious NERC Independent Research Fellowship (NE/S014314/1, spectroscopic measurements of the formation and ageing of light absorbing chromophores in organic aerosols) in November 2019, which saw him transfer his research back to the University of Bristol.

MIC is Principal Investigator on EPSRC Standard Grant EP/W009528/1 (new absorption spectroscopy approaches to studying accelerated chemical reactions in aerosol droplets, 2022-2024). He has secured and managed further project funding from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Analytical Chemistry Trust, EPSRC core equipment funding (EP/V036440/1), and EPSRC PhD studentship funding. His growing research group includes two PhD students, with a further EPSRC funded position currently being advertised, and a postdoctoral researcher funded through his EPSRC Standard Grant. He collaborates closely with Jonathan and Bryan, and has extensive active collaborations with the Met Office and international researchers in the USA.

Research in MIC’s group is broad-ranging and involves studies of: (a) The evolving physicochemical properties of aerosols relevant to planetary atmospheres; (b) The morphological properties of - and non-ideal interactions of species within - internally mixed spray dried particles; (c) The unique properties of aerosols (e.g. high surface areas relative to the particle volume, metastable supersaturation of dissolved species, strong pH and electric field gradients, altered rheology and molecular diffusion in supersaturated solutions) which may cause accelerated reactions in aerosol particles compared to those in beaker scale (~1 L) solutions. His research has a strong focus on laser-based spectroscopy and the development of new measurement platforms, developing new spectroscopy approaches for non-contact measurements of aerosol physicochemical properties and processes. For example, his group develop novel optical and electrodynamic trapping methods to confine a single aerosol particle for ultrasensitive characterisations of its continuously evolving optical properties, and develops spectroscopy techniques such using cavity ring-down and photoacoustic spectroscopy to probe aerosol particle properties (both single particles and ensembles).

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