Control of Chemical Reaction Pathways by Light-Matter Coupling

Dinumol Devasia, Ankita Das, Varun Mohan, Prashant K. Jain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Because plasmonic metal nanostructures combine strong light absorption with catalytically active surfaces, they have become platforms for the light-assisted catalysis of chemical reactions. The enhancement of reaction rates by plasmonic excitation has been extensively discussed. This review focuses on a less discussed aspect: the induction of new reaction pathways by light excitation. Through commentary on seminal reports, we describe the principles behind the optical modulation of chemical reactivity and selectivity on plasmonic metal nanostructures. Central to these phenomena are excited charge carriers generated by plasmonic excitation, which modify the energy landscape available to surface reactive species and unlock pathways not conventionally available in thermal catalysis. Photogenerated carriers can trigger bond dissociation or desorption in an adsorbate-selective manner, drive charge transfer and multielectron redox reactions, and generate radical intermediates. Through one or more of these mechanisms, a specific pathway becomes favored under light. By improved control over these mechanisms, light-assisted catalysis can be transformational for chemical synthesis and energy conversion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-443
Number of pages21
JournalAnnual Review of Physical Chemistry
Early online dateJan 22 2021
StatePublished - Apr 20 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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