Hydrogen-bond disruption by vibrational excitations in water

Zhaohui Wang, Yoonsoo Pang, Dana D. Dlott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An excitation of the OH-stretch VOH of water has unique disruptive effects on the local hydrogen bonding. The disruption is not an immediate vibrational predissociation, which is frequently the case with hydrogenbonded clusters, but instead is a delayed disruption caused by a burst of energy from a vibrationally excited water molecule. The disruptive effects are the result of a fragile hydrogen-bonding network subjected to a large amount of vibrational energy released in a short time by the relaxation of vOH stretching and δH2O bending excitations. The energy of a single vOH vibration distributed over one, two, or three (classical) water molecules would be enough to raise the local temperature to 1100, 700, or 570 K, respectively. Our understanding of the properties of the metastable water state having this excess energy in nearby hydrogen bonds, termed H2O*, has emerged as a result of experiments where a femtosecond IR pulse is used to pump vOH, which is probed by either Raman or IR spectroscopy. These experiments show that the H2O* spectrum is blue-shifted and narrowed, and the spectrum looks very much like supercritical water at ∼600 K, which is consistent with the temperature estimates above. The H 2O* is created within ∼400 fs after vOH excitation, and it relaxes with an 0.8 ps lifetime by re-formation of the disrupted hydrogen-bond network. Vibrationally excited H2O* with one quantum of excitation in the stretching mode has the same 0.8 ps lifetime, suggesting it also relaxes by hydrogen-bond re-formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3196-3208
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry A
Issue number17
StatePublished - May 3 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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