Mode-Selective Vibrational Energy Transfer Dynamics in 1,3,5-Trinitroperhydro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX) Thin Films
The coupling of inter- and intramolecular vibrations plays a critical role in initiating chemistry during the shock-to-detonation transition in energetic materials. Herein, we report on the subpicosecond to subnanosecond vibrational energy transfer (VET) dynamics of the solid energetic material 1,3,5-trinitroperhydro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX) by using broadband, ultrafast infrared transient absorption spectroscopy. Experiments reveal VET occurring on three distinct time scales: subpicosecond, 5 ps, and 200 ps. The ultrafast appearance of signal at all probed modes in the mid-infrared suggests strong anharmonic coupling of all vibrations in the solid, whereas the long-lived evolution demonstrates that VET is incomplete, and thus thermal equilibrium is not attained, even on the 100 ps time scale. Density functional theory and classical molecular dynamics simulations provide valuable insights into the experimental observations, revealing compression-insensitive time scales for the initial VET dynamics of high-frequency vibrations and drastically extended relaxation times for low-frequency phonon modes under lattice compression. Mode selectivity of the longest dynamics suggests coupling of the N-N and axial NO2stretching modes with the long-lived, excited phonon bath.