The Weichman Lab will develop new spectroscopic tools to examine chemical interactions and dynamics in complex nanoscale molecules and hybrid light-matter systems. Beyond exploring their fundamental properties, we will work towards quantum state preparation and control of these systems and explore their broader applications in catalysis, synthesis, and the design of novel materials.
Catalysis and quantum control of reactions via strong light-matter coupling
Most key chemical problems lie in the transformation of molecular material into desired products or useful energy. Optimizing the path of a reaction typically hinges on modifying chemical substituents or reaction conditions. There is a need for novel, broadly applicable tools to better manipulate the efficiency and specificity of complex reactive processes. Polaritons, hybrid quantum states arising through strong light-matter interactions, have great prospects for rationally manipulating reaction pathways, photochemistry, and energy transfer, and await application to open chemical problems. We will lay the groundwork to understand the effects of vibrational and electronic strong coupling on reactions occurring on ground and excited state surfaces and explore their utility for novel catalytic methods and devices.
Quantum state resolved dynamics in cold nanoscale molecules
A rigorous understanding of structure and dynamics in pristine, isolated, and typically small molecular systems has been made possible through high resolution spectroscopy. Extending this level of characterization to systems of transitional size, on the brink of treatment with standard molecular tools, is becoming possible using novel optical and cold molecule technologies. We will use cavity-enhanced frequency comb spectroscopy and buffer gas cooling techniques to fully resolve individual quantum states in unprecedentedly complex nanoscale molecular systems. The combination of broadband, sensitive, and high resolution frequency comb spectroscopy with cold molecule sources will facilitate future research avenues in laboratory astrophysics, aerosol science, and state preparation of large molecules.