Orientational Pair Correlations in a Dipolar Molecular Liquid: Time-Resolved Resonant and Nonresonant Pump–Probe Spectroscopies

Orientational pair correlations (OPCs), when they are sufficiently strong in a liquid, contain information on the interplay between structure and dynamics that arise from intermolecular interactions. Consequently, the quantification of OPCs remains a subject of substantial interest in current experimental and theoretical works. In the case of benzonitrile, the importance of OPCs remains ambiguous, owing to the use of model-dependent analyses or reliance on a single spectroscopic technique. Here, IR polarization-selective pump–probe (PSPP) and optical heterodyne-detected optical Kerr effect (OHD-OKE) experiments were used to quantify OPCs in benzonitrile. These methods measure single molecule and collective orientational relaxation dynamics, respectively. A comparison of the orientational correlation function (PSPP) of the naturally abundant 13CN stretching mode and the polarizability anisotropy relaxation (OHD-OKE) of the liquid revealed that the collective reorientation time was a factor of 1.56 ± 0.08 slower than the single molecule reorientation time. The two types of measurements on dilute benzonitrile in carbon tetrachloride were the same within experimental error. These results support the proposition that OPCs exist and arise from the formation of parallel-aligned intermolecular structures in the neat liquid.