An object has a chiral shape if it cannot be superimposed on its mirror image. The preparation of solid particles with a chiral shape remains a fundamental challenge. If such particles were available, they could exhibit many new and interesting properties. For example, if made from metals such as silver or gold, they should exhibit strong optical phenomena. They could then have uses in many applications, such as catalysis, optics, sensing, and separations.

Lay summary

In this project, a Ph.D. student and a postdoctoral researcher will study these materials. The team will develop a new strategy that exploits patterned silicon wafers to obtain chiral particles. The approach can provide particles of many different shapes, sizes, and materials. The team will pursue particles that range in size from ~1 micrometer to ~50 nanometers made from metals, semiconductors, oxides, and their combinations. Once prepared, the main goal will be to gain fundamental understanding of the particles and their potential applications. This will include investigations of: (i) optical properties, (ii) the binding of chiral molecules, (iii) the motion of chiral particles or molecules through a channel packed with chiral particles, and (iv) the assembly of chiral particles into larger structures.

In addition to the training of a Ph.D student and a postdoctoral researcher, the expected outcome of the project is an understanding of how chiral particles can be prepared, their fundamental properties, and their potential applications.