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Microscopic origin of chiral shape induction in achiral crystals

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Werner Hofer



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


In biomineralisation, inorganic materials are formed with a remarkable control of shape and morphology. Chirality, as present in the biomolecular world, is therefore also common for biominerals. Bio-macromolecules, like proteins and polysaccharides are in direct contact with the mineral phase and act as modifiers during nucleation and crystal growth. Due to their homochirality – they exist only as one of two possible mirror symmetric isomers – their handedness is often transferred into the macroscopic shape of the biomineral crystals, but yet the way in which handedness is transmitted into achiral materials is not understood at the atomic level. By using the submolecular resolution capability of scanning tunnelling microscopy, we show how the chiral ‘buckybowl’ hemibuckminsterfullerene arranges copper surface atoms in its vicinity into a chiral morphology. We anticipate that such new insight will find its way into materials synthesis techniques.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Xiao W, Ernst KH, Palotas K, Zhang Y, Bruyer E, Peng L, Greber T, Hofer WA, Scott LT, Fasel R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nature Chemistry

Year: 2016

Volume: 8

Pages: 326-330

Print publication date: 01/04/2016

Online publication date: 08/02/2016

Acceptance date: 05/01/2016

Date deposited: 13/01/2016

ISSN (print): 1755-4330

ISSN (electronic): 1755-4349

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/nchem.2449


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