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Journal Article

Mechanism of vibrational energy dissipation of free OH groups at the air-water interface


Campen,  R. Kramer
Physical Chemistry, Fritz Haber Institute, Max Planck Society;

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Hsieh, C.-S., Campen, R. K., Okuno, M., Backusa, E. H. G., Nagata, Y., & Bonn, M. (2013). Mechanism of vibrational energy dissipation of free OH groups at the air-water interface. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(47), 18780-18785. doi:10.1073/pnas.1314770110.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0014-C95F-7
Interfaces of liquid water play a critical role in a wide variety of processes that occur in biology, a variety of technologies, and the environment. Many macroscopic observations clarify that the properties of liquid water interfaces significantly differ from those of the bulk liquid. In addition to interfacial molecular structure, knowledge of the rates and mechanisms of the relaxation of excess vibrational energy is indispensable to fully understand physical and chemical processes of water and aqueous solutions, such as chemical reaction rates and pathways, proton transfer, and hydrogen bond dynamics. Here we elucidate the rate and mechanism of vibrational energy dissipation of water molecules at the air–water interface using femtosecond two-color IR-pump/vibrational sum-frequency probe spectroscopy. Vibrational relaxation of nonhydrogen-bonded OH groups occurs at a subpicosecond timescale in a manner fundamentally different from hydrogen-bonded OH groups in bulk, through two competing mechanisms: intramolecular energy transfer and ultrafast reorientational motion that leads to free OH groups becoming hydrogen bonded. Both pathways effectively lead to the transfer of the excited vibrational modes from free to hydrogen-bonded OH groups, from which relaxation readily occurs. Of the overall relaxation rate of interfacial free OH groups at the air–H2O interface, two-thirds are accounted for by intramolecular energy transfer, whereas the remaining one-third is dominated by the reorientational motion. These findings not only shed light on vibrational energy dynamics of interfacial water, but also contribute to our understanding of the impact of structural and vibrational dynamics on the vibrational sum-frequency line shapes of aqueous interfaces.