Photonic molecules are mesoscopic hierarchical structures, constructed from ‘monomer’ units with typical dimensions of 1–5 µm, which function as coupled optical resonators. These structures are so named because they confine electromagnetic fields in modes that are closely analogous to bonding and antibonding electronic molecular orbitals in real molecules. Recent experimental advances have shown that photonic molecules can be fabricated in a variety of ways with different functionality. We review here recent work in this newly developing interdisciplinary field that blends chemistry, materials science, and optical physics. Finally, we speculate on possible applications and future research directions.For many years now, researchers in materials and photonics have been keenly interested in the design and fabrication of structures that confine and manipulate electromagnetic fields on length scales comparable to optical wavelengths. The ultimate goal is an all-optical information processing and computation platform using photons in ways analogous to electrons in silicon devices on similar length scales. Specific focus areas such as wafer-scale integration, parallel processing, and frequency management (e.g. add-drop filters), on micron or sub-micron length scales are active areas of photonics research. While a great deal of progress has been made in the burgeoning field of microphotonics, we are still a long way off from realizing important goals such as the optical transistor and all-optical integrated circuits1.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(02)00928-8