Chiral metal surfaces for enantioselective processes


Chiral surfaces are critical components of enantioselective heterogeneous processes such as those used to prepare enantiomerically pure pharmaceuticals. While the majority of chiral surfaces in practical use are based on achiral materials whose surfaces have been modified with enantiomerically pure chiral adsorbates, there are many inorganic materials with valuable surface properties that could be rendered enantiospecific, if their surfaces were intrinsically chiral. This Perspective discusses recent developments in the fabrication of intrinsically chiral surfaces exhibiting enantiospecific adsorption, surface chemistry and electron emission. We propose possible paths to the scalable fabrication of high-surface-area, enantiomerically pure surfaces and discuss opportunities for future progress.

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Fig. 1: Chirality of metallic crystal surfaces.
Fig. 2: Chiral metallic surfaces fabricated by electrodeposition.
Fig. 3: Surface restructuring methods for fabricating chiral structures.
Fig. 4: Patterning of textured metallic substrates.


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The authors’ work in the field of chiral surface chemistry and catalysis has been funded by the US Department of Energy under grant number DE-SC0008703 and by the US National Science Foundation under grant number NSF CHE1764252.

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Correspondence to Andrew J. Gellman.

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Shukla, N., Gellman, A.J. Chiral metal surfaces for enantioselective processes. Nat. Mater. 19, 939–945 (2020).

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