Rattling the cage: Micro- to mesoscopic structure in liquids as simple as argon and as complicated as water

David A. Turton, Johannes Hunger, Alexander Stoppa, Andreas Thoman, Marco Candelaresi, Glenn Hefter, Markus Walther, Richard Buchner, Klaas Wynne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


The water molecule has the convenient property that its molecular polarizability tensor is nearly isotropic while its dipole moment is large. As a result, the low-frequency anisotropic Raman spectrum of liquid water is mostly collision-induced and therefore reports primarily translational motions while the far-infrared (terahertz) and dielectric spectrum is dominated by rotational modes. Atomic and globular-molecular liquids have a zero dipole moment as well as an isotropic polarizability tensor. These spectrum-simplifying properties were exploited in a study of a number of liquids and solutions using ultrafast optical Kerr-effect COKE) spectroscopy combined with dielectric relaxation spectroscopy (DRS), terahertz time-domain spectroscopy (THz-TDS), and terahertz field-induced second-harmonic generation (TFISH) spectroscopy. For room-temperature ionic liquids (RTILs), liquid water, aqueous salt solutions, noble gas liquids, and globular-molecular liquids it was found that, in each case, surprising structure and/or inhomogeneity is observed, ranging from mesoscopic clustering in RTILs to stretched-exponential dynamics in the noble gas liquids. For aqueous electrolyte solutions it is shown that the viscosity, normally described by the Jones-Dole expression, can be explained in terms of a jamming transition, a concept borrowed from soft condensed matter studies of glass transitions in colloidal suspensions. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-8
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Molecular Liquids
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2011


  • mesoscopic
  • noble gas liquids
  • electrolyte
  • water
  • room-temperature ionic liquids
  • nanoscale
  • jamming
  • fischer clusters


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