A Theory for Cavity Modified Ground-State Reactivities via Electron-Photon Interactions

02 March 2023, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


We provide a simple and intuitive theory to explain how coupling a molecule to an optical cavity can modify ground-state chemical reactivity by exploiting intrinsic quantum behaviors of light-matter interactions. Using the recently developed Polarized Fock States representation, we demonstrate that the change of the ground-state potential is achieved due to the scaling of diabatic electronic couplings with the overlap of the polarized Fock states. Our theory predicts that for a proton-transfer model system, the ground state barrier height can be modified through light-matter interactions when the cavity frequency is in the electronic excitation range. Our simple theory explains several recent computational investigations that discovered the same effect. We further demonstrate that under the deep strong coupling limit of the light and matter, the polaritonic ground and first excited eigenstates become the Mulliken-Hush diabatic states, which are the eigenstates of the dipole operator. This work provides a simple but powerful theoretical framework to understand how strong coupling between molecule and cavity can modify ground state reactivities.


Cavity QED
Reaction Kinetics
Light-Matter Interactions


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