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On the twist: Chirality at surfaces

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In living organisms, chirality – the property of an object that it cannot be superposed on its mirror image – is fundamental. Key biochemical building blocks, such as amino acids and sugars, are chiral, and occur in one enantiomeric form; getting the chirality right is also crucial in pharmaceutical manufacture. A vision of utilising metal surfaces as heterogeneous catalysts for asymmetric synthesis, or in enantiomer-discriminating biosensors, underpins the current drive to understand how they interact with chiral adsorbates. In this talk, I will discuss different manifestations of chirality at surfaces, using amino acids adsorbed on Cu surfaces as an archetype. I will focus in particular on the subtle interplay between molecular, footprint, and self-organisational chiralities, and how we can tip the playing field by using intrinsically chiral surfaces.

This talk is part of the Surfaces, Microstructure and Fracture Group series.

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