Vibrational Couplings and Energy Transfer Pathways of Water’s Bending Mode

Coupling between vibrational modes is essential for energy transfer and dissipation in condensed matter. For water, different O-H stretch modes are known to be very strongly coupled both within and between water molecules, leading to ultrafast dissipation and delocalization of vibrational energy. In contrast, the information on the vibrational coupling of the H-O-H bending mode of water is lacking, even though the bending mode is an essential intermediate for the energy relaxation pathway from the stretch mode to the heat bath. By combining static and femtosecond infrared, Raman, and hyper-Raman spectroscopy with ab initio molecular dynamics simulations, we find the vibrational coupling of the bending mode differs significantly from the stretch mode: the intramode intermolecular coupling of the bending mode is very weak, in stark contrast to the stretch mode. Our results elucidate the vibrational energy transfer pathways of water. Specifically, the librational motion is essential for the vibrational energy relaxation and orientational dynamics of H-O-H bending mode.