Interfacial Water Facilitates Energy Transfer by Inducing Extended Vibrations in Membrane Lipids

We report the complete assignment of the vibrational spectrum of dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC), which belongs to the most ubiquitous membrane phospholipid family, phosphatidylcholine. We find that water hydrating the lipid headgroups enables efficient energy transfer across membrane leaflets on sub-picosecond time scales. The emergence of spatially extended vibrational modes upon hydration, underlies this phenomenon. Our findings illustrate the importance of collective molecular behavior of biomembranes and reveal that hydrated lipid membranes can act as efficient media for the transfer of vibrational energy.