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Acc Chem Res. 2009 Sep 15;42(9):1220-8. doi: 10.1021/ar900006u.

Two-dimensional infrared spectroscopy of intermolecular hydrogen bonds in the condensed phase.

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Max-Born-Institut fur Nichtlineare Optik und Kurzzeitspektroskopie, D-12489 Berlin, Germany.


Hydrogen bonding plays a key role in the structural, physical, and chemical properties of liquids such as water and in macromolecular structures such as proteins. Vibrational spectroscopy is an important tool for understanding hydrogen bonding because it provides a way to observe local molecular geometries and their interaction with the environment. Linear vibrational spectroscopy has mapped characteristic changes of vibrational spectra and the occurrence of new bands that form upon hydrogen bonding. However, linear vibrational spectroscopy gives very limited insight into ultrafast dynamics of the underlying molecular interactions, such as the motions of hydrogen-bonded groups, energy dissipation and delocalization, and the fluctuations within hydrogen-bonded structures that occur in the ultrafast time domain. Nonlinear vibrational spectroscopy with its femtosecond time resolution can discern these dynamic processes in real time and has emerged as an important tool for unraveling molecular dynamics and for quantifying interactions that govern the vibrational and structural dynamics of hydrogen bonds. This Account reviews recent progress originating from third-order nonlinear methods of coherent multidimensional vibrational spectroscopy. Ultrafast dynamics of intermolecular hydrogen bonds are addressed for a number of prototype systems: hydrogen-bonded carboxylic acid dimers in an aprotic liquid environment, the disordered fluctuating hydrogen-bond network of liquid water, and DNA oligomers interacting with water. Cyclic carboxylic acid dimers display a rich scheme of vibrational couplings, resulting in OH stretching absorption bands with highly complex spectral envelopes. Two-dimensional spectroscopy of acetic acid dimers in a nonpolar liquid environment demonstrates that multiple Fermi resonances of the OH stretching mode with overtones and combination tones of fingerprint vibrations dominate both the 2D and linear absorption spectra. The coupling of the OH stretching mode with low-frequency hydrogen-bonding modes leads to additional progressions and coherent low-frequency hydrogen-bond motions in the subpicosecond time domain. In water, the 2D spectra reveal ultrafast spectral diffusion on a sub-100 fs time scale caused by the ultrafast structural fluctuations of the strongly coupled hydrogen-bond network. Librational motions play a key role for the ultrafast loss of structural memory. Spectral diffusion rates are enhanced by resonant transfer of OH stretching quanta between water molecules, typically occurring on a 100 fs time scale. In DNA oligomers, femtosecond nonlinear vibrational spectroscopy resolves NH and OH stretching bands in the highly congested infrared spectra of these molecules, which contain alternating adenine-thymine pairs. Studies at different levels of hydration reveal the spectral signatures of water molecules directly interacting with the phosphate groups of DNA and of a second water species forming a fluctuating environment around the DNA oligomers. We expect that the application of 2D infrared spectroscopy in an extended spectral range will reveal the intrinsic coupling between water and specific functional units of DNA.

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