Challenges and Opportunities in Molecular-Level Indoor Surface Chemistry and Physics

Yangdongling Liu, Ariana Gray Bé, Victor W. Or, Michael R. Alves, Vicki H. Grassian*, Franz M. Geiger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The high surface-to-volume ratio that is typical indoors makes surface chemistry and physics particularly important to the study of air quality in these environments. However, surface-mediated transformations in indoor environments are not adequately understood, largely because the surfaces involved are notoriously complex. Moreover, it is challenging to capture dynamic changes in real time and under ambient conditions. This Perspective presents a path to bridge this capability gap by reviewing recent developments in advanced instrumentation and collaborative work and discussing research opportunities that have the potential to contribute new chemical and physical insights into indoor surface processes. Mechanistic studies of idealized model surfaces and on surfaces of real-world indoor samples will help us better quantify sources and sinks of indoor air pollutants, improve the prediction of dynamic changes in indoor air quality, and open the door for the design of smart coatings or paints for controlling, mitigating, or preventing the potential negative outcomes of indoor air chemistry. This Perspective presents challenges and opportunities for scientists seeking a molecular-level mechanistic understanding of what drives surface chemistry indoors. Liu et al. highlight surface-specific investigations of indoor molecular, nano-, and microlayers under ambient conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100256
JournalCell Reports Physical Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 18 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Energy(all)
  • Engineering(all)


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