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Theory of cavity-modified materials 

  • Michael Ruggenthaler 
  • Dieter Jaksch 
  • Frank Schlawin 
  • Angel Rubio

Keywords: QED materials, cavity QED, ab-initio QED 

In the last decade several seminal experimental works at the interface of condensed matter physics and quantum optics have demonstrated that material properties and dynamics can be significantly modified by strongly coupling matter excitations to the modes of a photonic environment, e.g. an optical cavity [1]. Among others, it was demonstrated that chemical reactions are modified [2], Bose-Einstein condensation can be obtained at room temperature [3] and that the critical temperature of superconductors can be increased [4]. Due to such results a highly interdisciplinary field of research has emerged that is developing strong light-matter coupling into a versatile tool to manipulate material properties at will. 

(a) The vacuum fluctuations of light (yellow wave) are amplified in an optical cavity (upper and lower reflecting mirrors). Crystal lattice vibrations (red atoms) at a two-dimensional interface surf this strong light wave. The thus mixed light-vibrational waves couple particularly strongly to electrons in a two-dimensional atomically thin material (green and yellow atoms), changing its properties. © Jörg M. Harms / MPSD 

While there has been much experimental progress in the field of photon-modified material properties, many of the effects are not well understood and theoretical explanations remain controversial. In order to gain a detailed understanding many new phenomenological models [5,6,7] as well as ab-initio methods [8,9] have been developed in recent years. In this mini-colloquium we want to provide an overview of these theoretical developments and the field of photon-modified material properties.  

Several lectures by experts will cover the latest theoretical developments in light-matter theory that combines ideas and concepts from condensed matter physics, quantum optics and electronic structure theory to understand how quantum electrodynamics influences condensed matter. 


[1] Genet, C., Faist, J., & Ebbesen, T. W., Inducing new material properties with hybrid light–matter states. Physics Today, 74(5), 42-48  (2021). 

[2] Hutchison, J. A., Schwartz, T., Genet, C., Devaux, E., and Ebbesen, T. W., Modifying chemical landscapes by coupling to vacuum fields. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 51, 1592–1596 (2012). 

[3] Plumhof, J. D., Stoeferle, T., Mai, L., Scherf, U., and Mahrt, R. F., Room-temperature Bose–Einstein condensation of cavity exciton–polaritons in a polymer. Nature Materials, 13, 247–252 (2014). 

[4] Thomas, A., Devaux, E., Nagarajan, K., Chervy, T., Seidel, M., Hagenmüller, D., ... and Ebbesen, T. W., Exploring superconductivity under strong coupling with the vacuum electromagnetic field. arXiv preprint arXiv:1911.01459 (2019). 

[5] Strashko, A., Kirton, P., & Keeling, J., Organic polariton lasing and the weak to strong coupling crossover. Physical review letters, 121(19), 193601 (2018). 

[6] Schlawin, F., Cavalleri, A., and Jaksch, D., Cavity-mediated electron-photon superconductivity. Physical review letters, 122 (13), 133602 (2019). 

[7] Kockum, A. F., Miranowicz, A., De Liberato, S., Savasta, S., and Nori, F., Ultrastrong coupling between light and matter. Nature Reviews Physics, 1(1), 19-40 (2019). 

[8] Ruggenthaler, M., Tancogne-Dejean, N., Flick, J., Appel, H., and Rubio, A., From a quantum-electrodynamical light–matter description to novel spectroscopies. Nature Reviews Chemistry, 2(3), 1-16 (2018). 

[9] Haugland, T. S., Ronca, E., Kjønstad, E. F., Rubio, A., and Koch, H., Coupled cluster theory for molecular polaritons: Changing ground and excited states. Physical Review X, 10(4), 041043 (2020). 

Key dates

Early registration deadline:

5 June 2022

Registration deadline:

21 July 2022


The programme is complemented by a large physics and physics instrumentation exhibition proposed by the conference’s partners. If you wish to exhibit at this conference, you can find more information here.

Jointly organised by the EPS and IOP