Theoretical Advances in Polariton Chemistry and Molecular Cavity Quantum Electrodynamics



When molecules are coupled to an optical cavity, new light-matter hybrid states, so-called polaritons, are formed due to quantum light-matter interactions. With the experimental demonstrations of modifying chemical reactivities by forming polaritons under strong light-matter interactions, theorists have been encouraged to develop new methods to simulate these systems and discover new strategies to tune and control reactions. This review summarizes some of these exciting theoretical advances in polariton chemistry, in methods ranging from the fundamental framework to computational techniques and applications spanning from photochemistry to vibrational strong coupling. Even though the theory of quantum light-matter interactions goes back to the mid-twentieth century, the gaps in the knowledge of molecular quantum electrodynamics (QED) have only recently been filled. We review recent advances made in resolving gauge ambiguities, the correct form of different QED Hamiltonians under different gauges, and their connections to various quantum optics models. Then, we review recently developed {\it ab-initio} QED approaches which can accurately describe polariton states in a realistic molecule-cavity hybrid system. We then discuss applications using these method advancements. We review advancements in polariton photochemistry where the cavity is made resonant to electronic transitions to control molecular non-adiabatic excited state dynamics and enable new photochemical reactivities. When the cavity resonance is tuned to the molecular vibrations instead, ground-state chemical reaction modifications have been demonstrated experimentally, though its mechanistic principle remains unclear. We present some recent theoretical progress in resolving this mystery. Finally, we review the recent advances in understanding the collective coupling regime between light and matter, where many molecules can collectively couple to a single cavity mode or many cavity modes. We also lay out the current challenges in theory to explain the observed experimental results. We hope that this review will serve as a useful document for anyone who wants to become familiar with the context of polariton chemistry and molecular cavity QED and thus significantly benefit the entire community.