The chemistry that occurs at surfaces has been an intense area of study for many years owing to its complexity and importance in describing a wide range of physical phenomena. The vapor/water interface is particularly interesting from an environmental chemistry perspective as this surface plays host to a wide range of chemistries that influence atmospheric and geochemical interactions. The application of vibrational sum frequency generation (VSFG), an inherently surface-specific, even-order nonlinear optical spectroscopy, enables the direct interrogation of various vapor/aqueous interfaces to elucidate the behavior and reaction of chemical species within the surface regime. In this review we discuss the application of VSFG to the study of a variety of atmospherically important systems at the vapor/aqueous interface. Chemical systems presented include inorganic ionic solutions prevalent in aqueous marine aerosols, small molecular solutes, and long-chain fatty acids relevant to fat-coated aerosols. The ability of VSFG to probe both the organization and reactions that may occur for these systems is highlighted. A future perspective toward the application of VSFG to the study of environmental interfaces is also provided.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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