The carboxylate anion group plays an important role in many (bio)chemical systems and polymeric materials. In this work, we study the orientation of carboxylate anions with various aliphatic and aromatic substituents at the water-air interface by probing the carboxylate stretch vibrations with heterodyne-detected vibrational sum-frequency generation spectroscopy in different polarization configurations. We find that carboxylate groups with small aliphatic substituents show a large tilt angle with respect to the surface normal and that this angle decreases with increasing size of the substituent. We further use the information about the orientation of the carboxylate group to determine the hyperpolarizability components of this group.

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) , European Research Council (ERC) , European Union Horizon 2020
J. Chem. Phys. B
Ultrafast Spectroscopy

Korotkevich, A., Moll, C., Versluis, J., & Bakker, H. (2023). Molecular Orientation of Carboxylate Anions at the Water-Air Interface Studied with Heterodyne-Detected Vibrational Sum-Frequency Generation. J. Chem. Phys. B, 127(20), 4544–4553. doi:10.1021/acs.jpcb.2c08992