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  1. Abstract

    A unified picture of the electronic relaxation dynamics of ionized liquid water has remained elusive despite decades of study. Here, we employ sub-two-cycle visible to short-wave infrared pump-probe spectroscopy and ab initio nonadiabatic molecular dynamics simulations to reveal that the excess electron injected into the conduction band (CB) of ionized liquid water undergoes sequential relaxation to the hydrated electronsground state via an intermediate state, identified as the elusivepexcited state. The measured CB andp-electron lifetimes are 0.26 ± 0.02 ps and 62 ± 10 fs, respectively. Ab initio quantum dynamics yield similar lifetimes and furthermore reveal vibrational modes that participate in the different stages of electronic relaxation, with initial relaxation within the dense CB manifold coupled to hindered translational motions whereas subsequentp-to-srelaxation facilitated by librational and even intramolecular bending modes of water. Finally, energetic considerations suggest that a hitherto unobserved trap state resides ~0.3-eV below the CB edge of liquid water. Our results provide a detailed atomistic picture of the electronic relaxation dynamics of ionized liquid water with unprecedented time resolution.

     
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