Low-frequency (gigahertz to terahertz) depolarized Raman scattering off n-alkanes, cycloalkanes, and six-membered rings: a physical interpretation

Molecular liquids have long been known to undergo various distinct and simple intermolecular motions, from fast librations and cage rattling oscillations to slow orientational and translational diffusion. However, their resultant gigahertz to terahertz spectra are far from simple, appearing as broad shapeless bands that span many orders of magnitude of frequency making meaningful interpretation troublesome. Ad hoc spectral lineshape fitting has become a notoriously fine art in the field; a unified approach to handling such spectra is long overdue. Here we apply ultrafast optical Kerr-effect (OKE) spectroscopy to study the intermolecular dynamics of room temperature n-alkanes, cycloalkanes, and six-carbon rings, as well as liquid methane and propane. This work provides stress-tests and converges upon an experimentally robust model across simple molecular series and temperatures, providing a blueprint for the interpretation of the dynamics of van der Waals liquids. This will enable the interpretation of low frequency spectra of more complex liquids.