Determining chirality is critical for new drug development.
Think of molecules as having little hands. They are not identical, but they serve almost undistinguishable functions. You can grip, pinch, punch and open your hands, regardless of whether you use your left or right hand. But when you get to some functions, such as writing, it matters if you are right-handed or left-handed.
Scientists - Molecules - Functions - Attributes - Length
Scientists have struggled to determine if molecules have unique left- or right-hand functions because their physical attributes such as length, weight, density, elasticity, etc. appear to be identical.
UCF's NanoScience Technology Center Associate Professor Debashis Chanda and Ph.D. student Abraham Vazquez-Guardado have figured out a unique way to do it. The interaction between light and the specially designed nanostructure they built creates a strong chiral light field -- called superchiral light. Such a nanostructure does not have geometrical chirality yet it creates two opposite light chirality (left or right) on demand. When light and matter's chirality match, just as hand-shaking with our right hand, successful identification happens. Therefore, this rotating light field has the ability to probe and identify any chiral molecule like drugs, proteins or DNAs....
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