Cavity-Controlled Chemistry in Molecular Ensembles

Phys Rev Lett. 2016 Jun 10;116(23):238301. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.238301. Epub 2016 Jun 8.


The demonstration of strong and ultrastrong coupling regimes of cavity QED with polyatomic molecules has opened new routes to control chemical dynamics at the nanoscale. We show that strong resonant coupling of a cavity field with an electronic transition can effectively decouple collective electronic and nuclear degrees of freedom in a disordered molecular ensemble, even for molecules with high-frequency quantum vibrational modes having strong electron-vibration interactions. This type of polaron decoupling can be used to control chemical reactions. We show that the rate of electron transfer reactions in a cavity can be orders of magnitude larger than in free space for a wide class of organic molecular species.