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Chemical equilibrium under vibrational strong coupling

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posted on 2023-05-03, 16:01 authored by Kaihong Sun, Raphael F. Ribeiro
We introduce a theory of chemical equilibrium in optical microcavities, which allows us to relate equilibrium reaction quotients in different electromagnetic environments. Our theory shows that in planar microcavities under strong coupling with polyatomic molecules, hybrid modes formed between all dipole-active vibrations and cavity resonances contribute to polariton-assisted chemical equilibrium shifts. To illustrate key aspects of our formalism, we explore a model SN2 reaction within a single-mode infrared resonator. Our findings reveal that chemical equilibria can be shifted in either direction of a chemical reaction, depending on the oscillator strength and frequencies of reactant and product normal-modes. Polariton-induced zero-point energy changes provide the dominant contributions, though the effects in single-mode cavities tend to diminish quickly as the temperature and number of molecules increase. Our approach is valid in generic electromagnetic environments and paves the way for understanding and controlling chemical equilibria with microcavities.

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