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Real-Time Quantum Dynamics Reveals Complex, Many-Body Interactions in Solvated Nanodroplets


Electronic excitations in the liquid phase are surprisingly rich and considerably more complex than either gas-phase or solid-state systems. While the majority of physical and biological processes take place in solvent, our understanding of nonequilibrium excited-state processes in these condensed phase environments remains far from complete. A central and long-standing issue in these solvated environments is the assessment of many-body interactions, particularly when the entire system is out of equilibrium and many quantum states participate in the overall process. Here we present a microscopic picture of solute–solvent electron dynamics and solvatochromic effects, which we uncover using a new real-time quantum dynamics approach for extremely large solvated nanodroplets. In particular, we find that a complex interplay of quantum interactions underlies our observations of solute–solvent effects, and simple macroscopic solvatochromic shifts can even be qualitatively different at the microscopic molecular level in these systems. By treating both the solvent and the solute on the same footing at a quantum-mechanical level, we demonstrate that the electron dynamics in these systems are surprisingly complex, and the emergence of many-body interactions underlies the dynamics in these solvated systems.