A chemical reaction converts the molecules that create matter. To impact chemical reactions, chemists quintessentially act on the molecules themselves, instead of the space in which the reaction is going to take place. Though researchers of the University of Strasbourg have exhibited that chemical reactions can certainly be influenced merely by leading them between two defined spaced mirrors, which are kept only micrometers from each other, a vessel physicist call an “optical cavity”.

Electromagnetic fluctuations

Like everywhere else in the universe, even in the dark electromagnetic fluctuations takes place inside microscopic “optical cavities”. These fluctuations can predict as waves confined between two walls. When these walls have a suitable and defined distance, the waves created are amplified similar to the swing movement amplification occurs. When it pushed at periodical intervals corresponding to its swinging frequency. While injecting liquid between the walls of the cavity, the electromagnetic fluctuations interact with the molecules inside. On condition that the cavity matches with one of the molecule’s vibrations. When the interaction is robust enough, the optical resonance and vibrations create hybrid states (half vibrational, half photonic). In that case, it observes that molecules are under the effect of vibrational strong coupling (VSC).

Professor Joseph Moran and Thomas Ebbesen’s teams who have done specialization in chemical catalysis and nanoscience, started a collaboration in the year 2015 to try to comprehend if VSC could have an influence on chemical reactions. In the following year, they have published in their first article presenting that it is likely to decelerate the deprotection of a trimethylsilyl safeguarding group by fluoride by a factor of five.


These positive outcomes led them to attempt to curb the selectivity of chemical reactions by VSC. Putting it differently, to examine the chances of promoting the creation of one product over another in a conversion. That could possibly offer two different results. For this cause, they sketched a substrate consisting of two different silyl groups. That has the ability to react with the fluoride ion to create two different products. By modifying the optical cavity as required by different vibration of the molecule. There is an option to not only alter the relative yield of two products but also represent which vibration involves in the reaction mechanism.

This ground-breaking discovery is evidence of concept that unveils the different approach to curb chemical reactions by modest physical means. By correcting the distance between two mirrors in the dark. Additionally, it is a tool to infer fundamental chemical reactivity. However, the association between the two teams doesn’t end there. At present, they are examining other types of reactions to try to comprehend the protocols. That monitor chemistry under the influence of VSC.