Energy-efficient pathway for selectively exciting solute molecules to high vibrational states via solvent vibration-polariton pumping
TE Li and A Nitzan and JE Subotnik, NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 13, 4203 (2022).
Selectively exciting target molecules to high vibrational states is inefficient in the liquid phase, which restricts the use of IR pumping to catalyze ground-state chemical reactions. Here, we demonstrate that this inefficiency can sometimes be solved by confining the liquid to an optical cavity under vibrational strong coupling conditions. For a liquid solution of (CO2)-C-13 solute in a (CO2)-C-12 solvent, cavity molecular dynamics simulations show that exciting a polariton (hybrid light-matter state) of the solvent with an intense laser pulse, under suitable resonant conditions, may lead to a very strong (>3 quanta) and ultrafast (<1 ps) excitation of the solute, even though the solvent ends up being barely excited. By contrast, outside a cavity the same input pulse fluence can excite the solute by only half a vibrational quantum and the selectivity of excitation is low. Our finding is robust under different cavity volumes, which may lead to observable cavity enhancement on IR photochemical reactions in Fabry-Perot cavities. Hybrid light-matter states formed in the strong light-matter coupling regime can alter the molecular ground-state reactivity. Here, Li et al. computationally demonstrate that pumping a collection of solvent molecules forming hybrid vibrational light-matter states in an optical cavity can excite solute molecules to very high excited states.
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