Chiral templating of self-assembling nanostructures by circularly polarized light

Nat Mater. 2015 Jan;14(1):66-72. doi: 10.1038/nmat4125. Epub 2014 Nov 17.


The high optical and chemical activity of nanoparticles (NPs) signifies the possibility of converting the spin angular momenta of photons into structural changes in matter. Here, we demonstrate that illumination of dispersions of racemic CdTe NPs with right- (left-)handed circularly polarized light (CPL) induces the formation of right- (left-)handed twisted nanoribbons with an enantiomeric excess exceeding 30%, which is ∼10 times higher than that of typical CPL-induced reactions. Linearly polarized light or dark conditions led instead to straight nanoribbons. CPL 'templating' of NP assemblies is based on the enantio-selective photoactivation of chiral NPs and clusters, followed by their photooxidation and self-assembly into nanoribbons with specific helicity as a result of chirality-sensitive interactions between the NPs. The ability of NPs to retain the polarization information of incident photons should open pathways for the synthesis of chiral photonic materials and allow a better understanding of the origins of biomolecular homochirality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Nanostructures / chemistry*
  • Photochemical Processes*
  • Photons*
  • Stereoisomerism