Chiral objects in chiral environments

The left-handed versus right-handed asymmetry of our living world—a “chirality” seen most often in mirror-image architectures of many biomolecules—is one of its most striking features yet one of the most difficult to comprehend. Immersing chiral molecules within chiral environments is an important route to asymmetry, exploited in chemistry for synthesizing and separating chiral molecules according to their handedness. However, the thermodynamics of such a route is not well understood. In a new publication in Physical Review X, we theoretically explore this thermodynamics using a chiral nanoparticle diffusing within a chiral optical light field.

Demonstrating how chiral degrees of freedom can turn into genuine thermodynamics parameters yields a new and rich playground for further exploring chiral light-matter interactions with far-reaching consequences. To that end, we build a stochastic optomechanical model to reveal and control the mechanisms of asymmetry. One central result of our work is to highlight the thermodynamical significance of the coupling between the chirality of the particle and the chirality of the light field.

Our results pave the way to new opportunities in the context of chiral sensing, recognition, and separation of chiral objects at the nanoscale that should now be implemented experimentally and exploited.

Good bye/Zàijiàn Minghao !

Minghao Li arrived in the lab in 2017 for a master training, stayed for a phD and defended about one year ago , then spent one more year with us for a postdoc position. But after 1697 days as he counted himself, time of departure has arrived and he left the team last week. He is now starting a new postdoctoral position in the Quantum Sensing group of Pr Maletinsky at the University of Basel.

We will miss his good mood, his energy and his nice photos and we wish him all the best for the future !