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ACS Nano. 2016 Jan 26;10(1):1552-64. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.5b07164. Epub 2016 Jan 12.

Significant Enhancement of the Chiral Correlation Length in Nematic Liquid Crystals by Gold Nanoparticle Surfaces Featuring Axially Chiral Binaphthyl Ligands.

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Liquid Crystal Institute, Chemical Physics Interdisciplinary Program and ‡Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Kent State University , Kent, Ohio 44242-0001 United States.


Chirality is a fundamental scientific concept best described by the absence of mirror symmetry and the inability to superimpose an object onto its mirror image by translation and rotation. Chirality is expressed at almost all molecular levels, from single molecules to supramolecular systems, and present virtually everywhere in nature. Here, to explore how chirality propagates from a chiral nanoscale surface, we study gold nanoparticles functionalized with axially chiral binaphthyl molecules. In particular, we synthesized three enantiomeric pairs of chiral ligand-capped gold nanoparticles differing in size, curvature, and ligand density to tune the chirality transfer from nanoscale solid surfaces to a bulk anisotropic liquid crystal medium. Ultimately, we are examining how far the chirality from a nanoparticle surface reaches into a bulk material. Circular dichroism spectra of the gold nanoparticles decorated with binaphthyl thiols confirmed that the binaphthyl moieties form a cisoid conformation in isotropic organic solvents. In the chiral nematic liquid crystal phase, induced by dispersing the gold nanoparticles into an achiral anisotropic nematic liquid crystal solvent, the binaphthyl moieties on the nanoparticle surface form a transoid conformation as determined by imaging the helical twist direction of the induced cholesteric phase. This suggests that the ligand density on the nanoscale metal surfaces provides a dynamic space to alter and adjust the helicity of binaphthyl derivatives in response to the ordering of the surrounding medium. The helical pitch values of the induced chiral nematic phase were determined, and the helical twisting power (HTP) of the chiral gold nanoparticles calculated to elucidate the chirality transfer efficiency of the binaphthyl ligand capped gold nanoparticles. Remarkably, the HTP increases with increasing diameter of the particles, that is, the efficiency of the chirality transfer of the binaphthyl units bound to the nanoparticle surface is diminished as the size of the particle is reduced. However, in comparison to the free ligands, per chiral molecule all tested gold nanoparticles induce helical distortions in a 10- to 50-fold larger number of liquid crystal host molecules surrounding each particle, indicating a significantly enhanced chiral correlation length. We propose that both the helicity and the chirality transfer efficiency of axially chiral binaphthyl derivatives can be controlled at metal nanoparticle surfaces by adjusting the particle size and curvature as well as the number and density of the chiral ligands to ultimately measure and tune the chiral correlation length.


binaphthyl; chiral correlation length; chirality; gold nanoparticle; liquid crystal


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