joined the IAMS as an Assistant Research Fellow in July 2017 and was promoted as Associate Research Fellow in September 2021. Dr. Hsu received his Ph.D. at Princeton University under the tutelage of Prof. Herschel Rabitz and then worked with Prof. George Schatz at Northwestern University in his postdoctoral stage. His research field is theoretical chemical physics, and he particularly focuses on quantum-electrodynamical chemistry and molecular electronics. Today we visited him to hear more.
A: Congratulations for your promotion! Could you introduce your recent research work and your breakthrough in theoretical chemical physics?
Dr. Liang–Yan Hsu (LYH): My recent research work focuses on quantum-electrodynamical chemistry (it is also called “polariton chemistry” or “cavity chemistry”). During the past three years, several studies have demonstrated that vacuum electromagnetic fields can change the products of chemical reactions or increase their rates. However, the fundamental mechanisms of these reactions are unclear owing to the complexity of chemistry. In order to establish reliable theories in quantum-electrodynamical chemistry, my group decided to first explore the physical properties of molecules under strong coupling. In the past four years, based on macroscopic quantum electrodynamics, my group has successfully extended the classic work done by Chance and Silbey and established a generalized molecular fluorescence theory and its application in molecular emission power spectrum analysis. These studies allow us to describe the quantum dynamics of molecular fluorescence coupled to the vacuum electromagnetic fields in a dielectric environment from weak to strong light-matter couplings. Molecular fluorescence and resonance energy transfer are very important mechanisms in physics and chemistry, so I believe that there will be a lot of applications based on my theories in the future.
A: What is your future research goal in the IAMS?
LYH: I would like to explore the “chemical” properties of molecules under strong coupling to vacuum fields. In the past, it was believed that quantum electrodynamics cannot play a significant role in chemical reactions. If quantum electrodynamics can be widely involved in chemistry, it would be really exciting!