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Phys Rev Lett. 2007 Mar 30;98(13):136102. Epub 2007 Mar 27.

Probing enantioselectivity with x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and density functional theory.

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  • 1Physik Institut Universität Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zürich, Switzerland.


The enantioselectivity of gold is investigated by x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and density functional theory (DFT). Cysteine molecules on a chiral Au(17 11 9);{S} surface show enantiospecific core level binding energies in the amino and in the thiol group. The sign and order of magnitude of the XPS core level shifts is reproduced by DFT. Identical preparations of D- and L-cysteine layers lead to D-cysteine molecules in the pure NH2 form, while a small portion of L-cysteine molecules maintains a hydrogen rich amino group (NH3). This implies enantiospecific adsorption reaction pathways and is consistent with DFT that indicates an activated hydrogen abstraction reaction from the amino group, which is downhill for D-cysteine.

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