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© 2015 AIP Publishing LLC. Zwitterions are naturally occurring molecules that have a positive and a negative charge group in its structure and are of great importance in many areas of science. Here, the vibrational and hydration dynamics of the zwitterionic system betaine (N,N,N-trimethylglycine) is reported. The linear infrared spectrum of aqueous betaine exhibits an asymmetric band in the 1550-1700 cm-1 region of the spectrum. This band is attributed to the carboxylate asymmetric stretch of betaine. The potential of mean force computed from ab initio molecular dynamic simulations confirms that the two observed transitions of the linear spectrum are related to two different betaine conformers present in solution. A model of the experimental data using non-linear response theory agrees very well with a vibrational model comprising of two vibrational transitions. In addition, our modeling shows that spectral parameters such as the slope of the zeroth contour plot and central line slope are both sensitive to the presence of overlapping transitions. The vibrational dynamics of the system reveals an ultrafast decay of the vibrational population relaxation as well as the correlation of frequency-frequency correlation function (FFCF). A decay of ∼0.5 ps is observed for the FFCF correlation time and is attributed to the frequency fluctuations caused by the motions of water molecules in the solvation shell. The comparison of the experimental observations with simulations of the FFCF from ab initio molecular dynamics and a density functional theory frequency map shows a very good agreement corroborating the correct characterization and assignment of the derived parameters.

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Journal of Chemical Physics