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Pathways to increase the dissymmetry in the interaction of chiral light and chiral molecules

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Thomas Penfold



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


The dissymmetric interaction between circularly polarised (CP) light and chiral molecules is central to a range of areas, from spectroscopy and imaging to next-generation photonic devices. However, the selectivity in absorption or emission of left-handed versus right-handed CP light is low for many molecular systems. In this Perspective, we assess the magnitude of the measured chiroptical response for a variety of chiral systems, ranging from small molecules to large supramolecular assemblies, and highlight the challenges towards enhancing chiroptical activity. We explain the origins of low CP dissymmetry and showcase recent examples in which molecular design, and the modification of light itself, enable larger responses. Our discussion spans spatial extension of the chiral chromophore, manipulation of transition dipole moments, exploitation of forbidden transitions and creation of macroscopic chiral structures; all of which can increase the dissymmetry. Whilst the specific strategy taken to enhance the dissymmetric interaction will depend on the application of interest, these approaches offer hope for the development and advancement of all research fields that involve interactions of chiral molecules and light.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Greenfield JL, Wade J, Brandt JR, Shi X, Penfold TJ, Fuchter MJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Chemical Science

Year: 2021

Volume: 12

Issue: 25

Pages: 8589-8602

Online publication date: 21/05/2021

Acceptance date: 20/05/2021

Date deposited: 21/05/2021

ISSN (print): 2041-6520

ISSN (electronic): 2041-6539

Publisher: Royal Society of Chemistry


DOI: 10.1039/D1SC02335G


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Funder referenceFunder name
Leverhulme Trust