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Nat Commun. 2016 Dec 12;7:13841. doi: 10.1038/ncomms13841.

Suppressing photochemical reactions with quantized light fields.

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Departamento de Física Teórica de la Materia Condensada and Condensed Matter Physics Center (IFIMAC), Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid E-28049, Spain.
Donostia International Physics Center (DIPC), Donostia/San Sebastian E-20018, Spain.


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.

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