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Tara Kahan

Tara Kahan

Assistant Professor, Chemistry

2-052 Center for Science and Technology

Research Interests

Physical chemistry; spectroscopy; environmental and atmospheric chemistry


  • B.Sc., 2005, University of Regina
  • Ph.D., 2010, University of Toronto
  • Postdoctoral Researcher, 2010-2011, University of California Irvine
  • Postdoctoral Researcher, 2011-2012, University of Colorado Boulder


  • CHE 116: General Chemistry II Lecture
  • CHE 347: Physical Chemistry I Lab
  • CHE 436/636: Advanced Physical Chemistry
  • CHE 600: Atmospheric Aerosol Chemistry

Research Focus

Cities are hotbeds of chemical activity. Reactions involving emissions from vehicles, industry, and even plants can affect human health and atmospheric composition. Most reactions happen in the air, but many can occur on surfaces such as buildings, roads, and even lakes both in their liquid and solid (frozen) forms. These surfacial reactions are less well-understood than their gas-phase counterparts, because they have not been studied for long and because probing chemistry at the surface of complex, rapidly-changing atmospheric surfaces is technically challenging.

The Kahan group will use existing techniques and develop new ones to investigate interactions between important atmospheric species and various surfaces. Surface-sensitive microscopic and spectroscopic techniques such as Raman microscopy will be combined with traditional analytical techniques such as mass spectrometry to provide a molecular-level understanding of the physical and chemical processes that occur at atmospheric surfaces in urban areas.

Students in the Kahan group will use a range of experimental techniques to investigate important questions in atmospheric chemistry. Experiments will be performed both in the laboratory and in the real world ("the field"). Students will also have the opportunity to design novel spectroscopic techniques, and to complement experimental results with computational studies. 

Selected Publications

  • Kahan, T. F.; Wren, S. N.; Donaldson, D. J. (2014) A pinch of salt is all it takes - Chemistry at the frozen water surface. Accounts of Chemical Research 47: 1587.
  • Malley, P. P. A.; Kahan, T. F.* (2014) Non-chromophoric organic matter suppresses polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon photolysis in ice and at ice surfaces. Journal of Physical Chemistry A 118: 1638.
  • Kahan, T. F.*; Ormond, T. K.; Ellison, G. B.; Vaida, V. (2013) Acetic acid formation via the hydration of gas-phase ketene under ambient conditions. Chemical Physics Letters 565: 1. Cover article.
  • Kahan, T. F.; Washenfelder, R. A.; Vaida, V.; Brown S. S. (2012) Cavity-enhanced measurements of hydrogen peroxide cross sections from 353 to 410 nm. Journal of Physical Chemistry A 116: 5941.
  • Kahan, T. F.; Kwamena, N.-O. A.; Donaldson, D. J. (2010) Different photolysis kinetics at the surface of frozen freshwater vs. frozen salt solutions. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 10: 1019.