We use mid-infrared pump-probe spectroscopy to study the ultrafast dynamics of HDO molecules in mixtures of tetramethylurea (TMU) and water. The composition of the studied solutions ranges from pure water to an equimolar mixture of water and TMU. We find that the vibrational relaxation of the OD-stretching vibration of HDO proceeds via an intermediate level in which the molecule is more strongly hydrogen bonded than in the ground state. As the TMU concentration is increased, the lifetime of the excited state and of the intermediate increase from 1.8 to 5.2 ps and from 0.7 to 2.2 ps, respectively. The orientational relaxation data indicate that the solutions contain two types of water molecules: bulk-like molecules that have the same reorientation time constant as in the pure liquid (trot = 2.5 ps) and molecules that are strongly immobilized (trot > 10 ps). The immobilized water molecules turn out to be involved in the solvation of the methyl groups of the tetramethylurea molecule. The fraction of immobilized water molecules grows with increasing TMU concentration, reaching a limiting value of 60% at very high concentrations.

J. Phys. Chem. A
Ultrafast Spectroscopy

Rezus, Y.L.A, & Bakker, H.J. (2008). Strong slowing down of water reorientation in mixtures of water and tetramethylurea. J. Phys. Chem. A, 112, 2355–2361. doi:10.1021/jp077135c