Case studies of the time-dependent potential energy surface for dynamics in cavities

Phillip Martinez, Bart Rosenzweig, Norah M. Hoffmann, Lionel Lacombe, Neepa T. Maitra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The exact time-dependent potential energy surface driving the nuclear dynamics was recently shown to be a useful tool to understand and interpret the coupling of nuclei, electrons, and photons in cavity settings. Here, we provide a detailed analysis of its structure for exactly solvable systems that model two phenomena: Cavity-induced suppression of proton-coupled electron-transfer and its dependence on the initial state, and cavity-induced electronic excitation. We demonstrate the inadequacy of simply using a weighted average of polaritonic surfaces to determine the dynamics. Such a weighted average misses a crucial term that redistributes energy between the nuclear and the polaritonic systems, and this term can in fact become a predominant term in determining the nuclear dynamics when several polaritonic surfaces are involved. Evolving an ensemble of classical trajectories on the exact potential energy surface reproduces the nuclear wavepacket quite accurately, while evolving on the weighted polaritonic surface fails after a short period of time. The implications and prospects for application of mixed quantum-classical methods based on this surface are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number014102
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 7 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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