StroCOMP: Strong Coupling of Organic Molecules and Plasmons
StroCOMP, which ran from Apr 2014 to August 2017, was funded by a Marie Curie Career Integration Grant of the European Union Seventh Framework Programme.
SummaryThe improvement of fabrication technology over the last decades enables the accurate creation of almost arbitrarily shaped nanoscale metal structures. In such systems, quasi-bound surface modes (plasmons) provide strong, sub-wavelength confinement of electromagnetic fields. This confinement leads to strongly increased coupling between light and matter, and increases the possible spatial resolution, making it possible to surpass the diffraction limit of conventional optics. These properties make plasmonics a quickly growing and multidisciplinary subject, with applications in physics, chemistry, biology and engineering. A particularly relevant topic is the coupling of quantum emitters (such as atoms, molecules, quantum dots, or color centers in diamond) to plasmons. By concentrating light with the use of plasmons, the mismatch between the absorption cross section of the emitter and the size of the light beam can be circumvented. It is then even possible to reach the strong coupling regime, where the elementary excitations become hybrid states with mixed light-matter character, so called exciton-polaritons. The major aim of StroCOMP is to develop new insights into the strong coupling between plasmons and organic molecule excitation. Due to the complex molecular structure, organic molecule exciton-polaritons are still not fully understood. A further goal of the project is to study the manipulation of chemical structure and reactions through strong coupling, exploiting the modification of the chemical potential energy surface.
Dr. Johannes Feist
Marie Curie CIG Research Fellow
Departamento de Física Teórica de la Materia Condensada
Facultad de Ciencias, Module C-05, 503
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
Tel.: +34 91497 2662
Prof. Francisco J. García Vidal
Departamento de Física Teórica de la Materia Condensada
Facultad de Ciencias, Module C-05, 401.2
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
Tel.: +34 91497 8515
Javier Galego Pascual
Departamento de Física Teórica de la Materia Condensada
Facultad de Ciencias, Module C-05, 305
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
PublicationsPublications financially supported by StroCOMP:
Tensor network simulation of non-Markovian dynamics in organic polaritons
Abstract: ...We calculate the exact many-body time dynamics of polaritonic states supported by an optical cavity filled with organic molecules. Optical, vibrational and radiative processes are treated on an equal footing employing the Time-Dependent Variational Matrix Product States algorithm. We demonstrate signatures of non-Markovian vibronic dynamics and its fingerprints in the far-field photon emission spectrum at arbitrary light-matter interaction scales, ranging from the weak to the strong coupling regimes. We analyse both the single and many-molecule cases, showing the crucial role played by the collective motion of molecular nuclei and dark states in determining the polariton dynamics and the subsequent photon emission.
Organic Polaritons Enable Local Vibrations to Drive Long-Range Energy Transfer
Abstract: ...Long-range energy transfer in organic molecules has been experimentally obtained by strongly coupling their electronic excitations to a confined electromagnetic cavity mode. Here, we shed light into the polariton-mediated mechanism behind this process for different configurations: donor and acceptor molecules either intermixed or physically separated. We numerically address the phenomenon by means of Bloch-Redfield theory, which allows us to reproduce the effect of complex vibrational reservoirs characteristic of organic molecules. Our findings reveal the key role played by the middle polariton as the non-local intermediary in the transmission of excitations from donor to acceptor molecules. We also provide analytical insight on the key physical magnitudes that helps to optimize the efficiency of the long-range energy transfer.
Photon Statistics in Collective Strong Coupling: Nano- and Microcavities
Abstract: ...There exists a growing interest in the properties of the light generated by hybrid systems involving a mesoscopic number of emitters as a means of providing macroscopic quantum light sources. In this work, the quantum correlations of the light emitted by a collection of emitters coupled to a generic optical cavity are studied theoretically using an effective Hamiltonian approach. Starting from the single-emitter level, we analyse the persistence of photon antibunching as the ensemble size increases. Not only is the photon blockade effect identifiable, but photon antibunching originated from destructive interference processes (the so-called unconventional antibunching) is also present. We study the dependence of these two types of negative correlations on the spectral detuning between cavity and emitters, as well as its evolution as the time delay between photon detections increases. Throughout this work, the performance of plasmonic nanocavities and dielectric microcavities is compared: despite the distinct energy scales and the differences introduced by their respectively open and closed character, the bunching and antibunching phenomenology presents remarkable similarities in both types of cavities.
Polaritonic Chemistry with Organic Molecules (PDF)
Abstract: ...We present an overview of the general concepts of polaritonic chemistry with organic molecules, i.e., the manipulation of chemical structure that can be achieved through strong coupling between confined light modes and organic molecules. Strong coupling and the associated formation of polaritons, hybrid light-matter excitations, leads to energy shifts in such systems that can amount to a large fraction of the uncoupled transition energy. This has recently been shown to significantly alter the chemical structure of the coupled molecules, which opens the possibility to manipulate and control reactions. We discuss the current state of theory for describing these changes and present several applications, with a particular focus on the collective effects observed when many molecules are involved in strong coupling.
Super-Planckian far-field radiative heat transfer (PDF)
Abstract: ...We present here a theoretical analysis that demonstrates that the far-field radiative heat transfer between objects with dimensions smaller than the thermal wavelength can overcome the Planckian limit by orders of magnitude. To guide the search for super-Planckian far-field radiative heat transfer, we make use of the theory of fluctuational electrodynamics and derive a relation between the far-field radiative heat transfer and the directional absorption efficiency of the objects involved. Guided by this relation, and making use of state-of-the-art numerical simulations, we show that the far-field radiative heat transfer between highly anisotropic objects can largely overcome the black-body limit when some of their dimensions are smaller than the thermal wavelength. In particular, we illustrate this phenomenon in the case of suspended pads made of polar dielectrics like SiN or SiO2 . These structures are widely used to measure the thermal transport through nanowires and low-dimensional systems and can be employed to test our predictions. Our work illustrates the dramatic failure of the classical theory to predict the far-field radiative heat transfer between micro- and nanodevices.
Enhancing photon correlations through plasmonic strong coupling (PDF)
Abstract: ...There is an increasing scientific and technological interest in the design and implementation of nanoscale sources of quantum light. Here, we investigate the quantum statistics of the light scattered from a plasmonic nanocavity coupled to a mesoscopic ensemble of emitters under low coherent pumping. We present an analytical description of the intensity correlations taking place in these systems and unveil the fingerprint of plasmon-exciton-polaritons in them. Our findings reveal that plasmonic cavities are able to retain and enhance excitonic nonlinearities, even when the number of emitters is large. This makes plasmonic strong coupling a promising route for generating nonclassical light beyond the single-emitter level.
Long-distance operator for energy transfer (PDF)
Abstract: ...Nonradiative energy transfer is a ubiquitous phenomenon in nature. Photosynthesis begins with light harvesting, where pigment-protein complexes transform sunlight into excitations, usually called excitons, within the molecules. Excitons are formed by an excited electron and the positively charged hole that is left in the ground state. In photosynthesis, the energy of this exciton is finally transferred to the reaction center, where a charge separation process provides chemical energy for plants, algae, and bacteria. Human-made organic photovoltaic cells try to mimic this natural process, and it is the transport of the excitons after light absorption that determines the efficiency of the cell. In organic materials, energy transfer is governed by short-range dipole-dipole interactions through the process of Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET), whose spatial range is limited to distances less than 10 nm. Recent work by Zhong et al. shows how this range can be extended to distances larger than 100 nm by taking advantage of a quantum electrodynamics (QED) phenomenon called strong coupling.
Many-Molecule Reaction Triggered by a Single Photon in Polaritonic Chemistry (PDF)
Abstract: ...The second law of photochemistry states that in most cases, no more than one molecule is activated for an excited-state reaction for each photon absorbed by a collection of molecules. In this work, we demonstrate that it is possible to trigger a many-molecule reaction using only one photon by strongly coupling the molecular ensemble to a confined light mode. The collective nature of the resulting hybrid states of the system (the so-called polaritons) leads to the formation of a polaritonic "supermolecule" involving the degrees of freedom of all molecules, opening a reaction path on which all involved molecules undergo a chemical transformation. We theoretically investigate the system conditions for this effect to take place and be enhanced.
Multiscale Molecular Dynamics Simulations of Polaritonic Chemistry (PDF)
Abstract: ...When photoactive molecules interact strongly with confined light modes as found in plasmonic structures or optical cavities, new hybrid light-matter states can form, the so-called polaritons. These polaritons are coherent superpositions (in the quantum mechanical sense) of excitations of the molecules and of the cavity photon or surface plasmon. Recent experimental and theoretical works suggest that access to these polaritons in cavities could provide a totally new and attractive paradigm for controlling chemical reactions that falls in between traditional chemical catalysis and coherent laser control. However, designing cavity parameters to control chemistry requires a theoretical model with which the effect of the light-matter coupling on the molecular dynamics can be predicted accurately. Here we present a multiscale quantum mechanics/molecular mechanics (QM/ MM) molecular dynamics simulation model for photoactive molecules that are strongly coupled to confined light in optical cavities or surface plasmons. Using this model we have performed simulations with up to 1600 Rhodamine molecules in a cavity. The results of these simulations reveal that the contributions of the molecules to the polariton are time-dependent due to thermal fluctuations that break symmetry. Furthermore, the simulations suggest that in addition to the cavity quality factor, also the Stokes shift and number of molecules control the lifetime of the polariton. Because large numbers of molecules interacting with confined light can now be simulated in atomic detail, we anticipate that our method will lead to a better understanding of the effects of strong coupling on chemical reactivity. Ultimately the method may even be used to systematically design cavities to control photochemistry.
Study of radiative heat transfer in Ångström- and nanometre-sized gaps (PDF)
Abstract: ...Radiative heat transfer in Ångström- and nanometre-sized gaps is of great interest because of both its technological importance and open questions regarding the physics of energy transfer in this regime. Here we report studies of radiative heat transfer in few Å to 5nm gap sizes, performed under ultrahigh vacuum conditions between a Au-coated probe featuring embedded nanoscale thermocouples and a heated planar Au substrate that were both subjected to various surface-cleaning procedures. By drawing on the apparent tunnelling barrier height as a signature of cleanliness, we found that upon systematically cleaning via a plasma or locally pushing the tip into the substrate by a few nanometres, the observed radiative conductances decreased from unexpectedly large values to extremely small ones—below the detection limit of our probe—as expected from our computational results. Our results show that it is possible to avoid the confounding effects of surface contamination and systematically study thermal radiation in Ångström- and nanometre-sized gaps.
Plasmon-exciton-polariton lasing (PDF)
Abstract: ...Metallic nanostructures provide a toolkit for the generation of coherent light below the diffraction limit. Plasmonic-based lasing relies on the population inversion of emitters (such as organic fluorophores) along with feedback provided by plasmonic resonances. In this regime, known as weak light–matter coupling, the radiative characteristics of the system can be described by the Purcell effect. Strong light–matter coupling between the molecular excitons and electromagnetic field generated by the plasmonic structures leads to the formation of hybrid quasi-particles known as plasmon-exciton-polaritons (PEPs). Due to the bosonic character of these quasi-particles, exciton-polariton condensation can lead to laser-like emission at much lower threshold powers than in conventional photon lasers. Here, we observe PEP lasing through a dark plasmonic mode in an array of metallic nanoparticles with a low threshold in an optically pumped organic system. Interestingly, the threshold power of the lasing is reduced by increasing the degree of light–matter coupling in spite of the degradation of the quantum efficiency of the active material, highlighting the ultrafast dynamic responsible for the lasing, i.e., stimulated scattering. These results demonstrate a unique room-temperature platform for exploring the physics of exciton-polaritons in an open-cavity architecture and pave the road toward the integration of this on-chip lasing device with the current photonics and active metamaterial planar technologies.
Exploiting vibrational strong coupling to make an optical parametric oscillator out of a Raman laser (PDF)
Abstract: ...When the collective coupling of the rovibrational states in organic molecules and confined electromagnetic modes is sufficiently strong, the system enters into vibrational strong coupling, leading to the formation of hybrid light-matter quasiparticles. In this Letter, we demonstrate theoretically how this hybridization in combination with stimulated Raman scattering can be utilized to widen the capabilities of Raman laser devices.We explore the conditions under which the lasing threshold can be diminished and the system can be transformed into an optical parametric oscillator. Finally, we show how the dramatic reduction of the many final molecular states into two collective excitations can be used to create an all-optical switch with output in the midinfrared.
Suppressing photochemical reactions with quantized light fields (PDF)
Abstract: ...Photoisomerization, that is, a photochemical reaction leading to a change of molecular structure after absorption of a photon, can have detrimental effects such as leading to DNA damage under solar irradiation, or as a limiting factor for the efficiency of solar cells. Here, we show that strong coupling of organic molecules to a confined light mode can be used to strongly suppress photoisomerization, as well as other photochemical reactions, and thus convert molecules that normally show fast photodegradation into photostable forms.We find this to be especially efficient in the case of collective strong coupling, where the distribution of a single excitation over many molecules and the light mode leads to a collective protection effect that almost completely suppresses the photochemical reaction.
When polarons meet polaritons: Exciton-vibration interactions in organic molecules strongly coupled to confined light fields (PDF)
Abstract: ...We present a microscopic semianalytical theory for the description of organic molecules interacting strongly with a cavity mode. Exciton-vibration coupling within the molecule and exciton-cavity interaction are treated on an equal footing by employing a temperature-dependent variational approach. The interplay between strong exciton-vibration coupling and strong exciton-cavity coupling gives rise to a hybrid ground state, which we refer to as the lower polaron polariton. Explicit expressions for the ground-state wave function, the zero-temperature quasiparticle weight of the lower polaron polariton, the photoluminescence line strength, and the mean number of vibrational quanta are obtained in terms of the optimal variational parameters. The dependence of these quantities upon the exciton-cavity coupling strength reveals that strong cavity coupling leads to an enhanced vibrational dressing of the cavity mode, and at the same time a vibrational decoupling of the dark excitons, which in turn results in a lower polaron polariton resembling a single-mode dressed bare lower polariton in the strong-coupling regime. Thermal effects on several observables are briefly discussed.
Uncoupled Dark States Can Inherit Polaritonic Properties (PDF)
Abstract: ...When a collection of quantum emitters interacts with an electromagnetic field, the whole system can enter into the collective strong coupling regime in which hybrid light-matter states, i.e., polaritons can be created. Only a small portion of excitations in the emitters are coupled to the light field, and there are many dark states that, in principle, retain their pure excitonic nature. Here we theoretically demonstrate that these dark states can have a delocalized character, which is inherent to polaritons, despite the fact that they do not have a photonic component. This unexpected behavior only appears when the electromagnetic field displays a discrete spectrum. In this case, when the main loss mechanism in the hybrid system stems from the radiative losses of the light field, dark states are even more efficient than polaritons in transferring excitations across the structure.
Signatures of Vibrational Strong Coupling in Raman Scattering (PDF)
Abstract: ...We analyze theoretically how the emergence of collective strong coupling between vibrational excitations and confined cavity modes affects Raman scattering processes. This work is motivated by recent experiments [Shalabney et al., Angew. Chemie 54, 7971 (2015)], which reported enhancements of up to three orders of magnitude in the Raman signal. By using different models within linear response theory, we show that the total Raman cross section is maintained constant when the system evolves from the weak-coupling limit to the strong-coupling regime. A redistribution of the Raman signal among the two polaritons is the main fingerprint of vibrational strong coupling in the Raman spectrum.
Radiative heat transfer in the extreme near field (PDF)
Abstract: ...Radiative transfer of energy at the nanometre length scale is of great importance to a variety of technologies including heat-assisted magnetic recording, near-field thermophotovoltaics and lithography. Although experimental advances have enabled elucidation of near-field radiative heat transfer in gaps as small as 20-30 nanometres, quantitative analysis in the extreme near field (less than 10 nanometres) has been greatly limited by experimental challenges. Moreover, the results of pioneering measurements differed from theoretical predictions by orders of magnitude. Here we use custom-fabricated scanning probes with embedded thermocouples, in conjunction with new microdevices capable of periodic temperature modulation, to measure radiative heat transfer down to gaps as small as two nanometres. For our experiments we deposited suitably chosen metal or dielectric layers on the scanning probes and microdevices, enabling direct study of extreme near-field radiation between silica-silica, silicon nitride-silicon nitride and gold-gold surfaces to reveal marked, gap-size-dependent enhancements of radiative heat transfer. Furthermore, our state-of-the-art calculations of radiative heat transfer, performed within the theoretical framework of fluctuational electrodynamics, are in excellent agreement with our experimental results, providing unambiguous evidence that confirms the validity of this theory for modelling radiative heat transfer in gaps as small as a few nanometres. This work lays the foundations required for the rational design of novel technologies that leverage nanoscale radiative heat transfer.
Cavity-Induced Modifications of Molecular Structure in the Strong-Coupling Regime (PDF)
Abstract: ...In most theoretical descriptions of collective strong coupling of organic molecules to a cavity mode, the molecules are modeled as simple two-level systems. This picture fails to describe the rich structure provided by their internal rovibrational (nuclear) degrees of freedom. We investigate a first-principles model that fully takes into account both electronic and nuclear degrees of freedom, allowing an exploration of the phenomenon of strong coupling from an entirely new perspective. First, we demonstrate the limitations of applicability of the Born-Oppenheimer approximation in strongly coupled molecule-cavity structures. For the case of two molecules, we also show how dark states, which within the two-level picture are effectively decoupled from the cavity, are indeed affected by the formation of collective strong coupling. Finally, we discuss ground-state modifications in the ultrastrong-coupling regime and show that some molecular observables are affected by the collective coupling strength, while others depend only on the single-molecule coupling constant.
Harvesting excitons through plasmonic strong coupling (PDF)
Abstract: ...Exciton harvesting is demonstrated in an ensemble of quantum emitters coupled to localized surface plasmons. When the interaction between emitters and the dipole mode of a metallic nanosphere reaches the strong-coupling regime, the exciton conductance is greatly increased. The spatial map of the conductance matches the plasmon field intensity profile, which indicates that transport properties can be tuned by adequately tailoring the field of the plasmonic resonance. Under strong coupling, we find that pure dephasing can have detrimental or beneficial effects on the conductance, depending on the effective number of participating emitters. Finally, we show that the exciton transport in the strong-coupling regime occurs on an ultrafast time scale given by the inverse Rabi splitting (∼10 fs), which is orders of magnitude faster than transport through direct hopping between the emitters.
Quantum theory of collective strong coupling of molecular vibrations with a microcavity mode (PDF)
Abstract: ...We develop a quantum mechanical formalism to treat the strong coupling between an electromagnetic mode and a vibrational excitation of an ensemble of organic molecules. By employing a Bloch-Redfield-Wangsness approach, we show that the influence of dephasing-type interactions, i.e., elastic collisions with a background bath of phonons, critically depends on the nature of the bath modes. In particular, for long-range phonons corresponding to a common bath, the dynamics of the “bright state” (the collective superposition of molecular vibrations coupling to the cavity mode) is effectively decoupled from other system eigenstates. For the case of independent baths (or short-range phonons), incoherent energy transfer occurs between the bright state and the uncoupled dark states. However, these processes are suppressed when the Rabi splitting is larger than the frequency range of the bath modes, as achieved in a recent experiment [Shalabney et al., Nat. Commun. 6, 5981 (2015)]. In both cases, the dynamics can thus be described through a single collective oscillator coupled to a photonic mode, making this system an ideal candidate to explore cavity optomechanics at room temperature.
Extraordinary Exciton Conductance Induced by Strong Coupling (PDF)
Abstract: ...We demonstrate that exciton conductance in organic materials can be enhanced by several orders of magnitude when the molecules are strongly coupled to an electromagnetic mode. Using a 1D model system, we show how the formation of a collective polaritonic mode allows excitons to bypass the disordered array of molecules and jump directly from one end of the structure to the other. This finding could have important implications in the fields of exciton transistors, heat transport, photosynthesis, and biological systems in which exciton transport plays a key role.