From a quantum-electrodynamical light–matter description to novel spectroscopies

Nature Reviews Chemistry 2, 0118 (2018)

From a quantum-electrodynamical light–matter description to novel spectroscopies

Michael Ruggenthaler,Nicolas Tancogne-Dejean,Johannes Flick,Heiko Appel, Angel Rubio

Insights from spectroscopic experiments led to the development of quantum mechanics as the common theoretical framework for describing the physical and chemical properties of atoms, molecules and materials. Later, a full quantum description of charged particles, electromagnetic radiation and special relativity was developed, leading to quantum electrodynamics (QED). This is, to our current understanding, the most complete theory describing photon–matter interactions in correlated many-body systems. In the low-energy regime, simplified models of QED have been developed to describe and analyse spectra over a wide spatiotemporal range as well as physical systems. In this Review, we highlight the interrelations and limitations of such theoretical models, thereby showing that they arise from low-energy simplifications of the full QED formalism, in which antiparticles and the internal structure of the nuclei are neglected. Taking molecular systems as an example, we discuss how the breakdown of some simplifications of low-energy QED challenges our conventional understanding of light–matter interactions. In addition to high-precision atomic measurements and simulations of particle physics problems in solid-state systems, new theoretical features that account for collective QED effects in complex interacting many-particle systems could become a material-based route to further advance our current understanding of light–matter interactions.

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The authors acknowledge financial support from the European Research Council (ERC- 2015‑AdG‑694097). The authors thank Arunangshu Debnath, Klaas Giesbertz, Christian Schäfer and Martin Ruggenthaler for fruitful discussions.

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