Rotational coherence of encapsulated ortho and para water in fullerene-C60 revealed by time-domain terahertz spectroscopy
We resolve the real-time coherent rotational motion of isolated water molecules encapsulated in fullerene-C60 cages by time-domain terahertz (THz) spectroscopy. We employ single-cycle THz pulses to excite the low-frequency rotational motion of water and measure the subsequent coherent emission of electromagnetic waves by water molecules. At temperatures below ~ 100 K, C60 lattice vibrational damping is mitigated and the quantum dynamics of confined water are resolved with a markedly long rotational coherence, extended beyond 10 ps. The observed rotational transitions agree well with low-frequency rotational dynamics of single water molecules in the gas phase. However, some additional spectral features with their major contribution at ~2.26 THz are also observed which may indicate interaction between water rotation and the C60 lattice phonons. We also resolve the real-time change of the emission pattern of water after a sudden cooling to 4 K, signifying the conversion of ortho-water to para-water over the course of 10s hours. The observed long coherent rotational dynamics of isolated water molecules confined in C60 makes this system an attractive candidate for future quantum technology.