Energy dissipation in water is very fast and more efficient than in many other liquids. This behavior is commonly attributed to the intermolecular interactions associated with hydrogen bonding. Here, we investigate the dynamic energy flow in the hydrogen bond network of liquid water by a pump-probe experiment. We resonantly excite intermolecular degrees of freedom with ultrashort single-cycle terahertz pulses and monitor its Raman response. By using ultrathin sample cell windows, a background-free bipolar signal whose tail relaxes monoexponentially is obtained. The relaxation is attributed to the molecular translational motions, using complementary experiments, force field, and ab initio molecular dynamics simulations. They reveal an initial coupling of the terahertz electric field to the molecular rotational degrees of freedom whose energy is rapidly transferred, within the excitation pulse duration, to the restricted translational motion of neighboring molecules. This rapid energy transfer may be rationalized by the strong anharmonicity of the intermolecular interactions.
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