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  1. Because of their central importance in chemistry and biology, water molecules have been the subject of decades of intense spectroscopic investigations. Rotational spectroscopy of water vapor has yielded detailed information about the structure and dynamics of isolated water molecules, as well as water dimers and clusters. Nonlinear rotational spectroscopy in the terahertz regime has been developed recently to investigate the rotational dynamics of linear and symmetric-top molecules whose rotational energy levels are regularly spaced. However, it has not been applied to water or other lower-symmetry molecules with irregularly spaced levels. We report the use of recently developed two-dimensional (2D) terahertz rotational spectroscopy to observe high-order rotational coherences and correlations between rotational transitions that were previously unobservable. The results include two-quantum (2Q) peaks at frequencies that are shifted slightly from the sums of distinct rotational transitions on two different molecules. These results directly reveal the presence of previously unseen metastable water complexes with lifetimes of 100 ps or longer. Several such peaks observed at distinct 2Q frequencies indicate that the complexes have multiple preferred bimolecular geometries. Our results demonstrate the sensitivity of rotational correlations measured in 2D terahertz spectroscopy to molecular interactions and complexation in the gas phase.

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