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DNA oligomers are studied at 0% and 92% relative humidity, corresponding to  < 2 and  > 20 water molecules per base pair. Two-dimensional (2D) infrared spectroscopy of DNA backbone modes between 920 and 1120 cm−1 maps fluctuating interactions at the DNAsurface. At both hydration levels, a frequency fluctuation correlation function with a 300 fs decay and a slow decay beyond 10 ps is derived from the 2D lineshapes. The fast component reflects motions of DNA helix, counterions, and water shell. Its higher amplitude at high hydration level reveals a significant contribution of water to the fluctuating forces. The slow component reflects disorder-induced inhomogeneous broadening.


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