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Materials for chiral light control

Solution-processable semiconductors based on small molecules, polymers or halide perovskites combine sustainable manufacturing with exceptional optoelectronic properties that can be chemically tailored to achieve flexible and highly efficient optoelectronic and photonic devices. A new exciting research direction is the study of the influence of chirality on light–matter interactions in these soft materials and its exploitation for the simultaneous control of charge, spin and light. In this Viewpoint, researchers working on different types of chiral semiconductors discuss the most interesting directions in this rapidly expanding field.

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Fig. 1: Emerging semiconductors for chiral light control.


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J.M. acknowledges support from the National Research Foundation of Korea funded by Ministry of Science and ICT (no. 2021R1A3B1068920) and the Yonsei Signature Research Cluster Program of 2021 (2021-22-0002). M.C.B. acknowledges support through the Center for Hybrid Organic Semiconductors for Energy (CHOISE) and Energy Frontier Research Center funded by Office of Science within US Department of Energy through contract no. DE-AC36-08GO28308 with NREL. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the DOE or the U.S. Government. S.F. acknowledges support from the Rowland Institute of Harvard University. N.A.K. acknowledges the generous funding from the Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship from the Office of Naval Research, ONR N000141812876. M.J.F. acknowledges the EPSRC for an Established Career Fellowship (EP/R00188X/1).

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Correspondence to Jeanne Crassous, Matthew J. Fuchter, Danna E. Freedman, Nicholas A. Kotov, Jooho Moon, Matthew C. Beard or Sascha Feldmann.

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Competing interests

D.E.F. has a patent filed on molecular colour centres. M.J.F. is an inventor on a patent concerning chiral blend materials (WO2014016611). M.C.B. has a patent filed related to CISS enabled spin-LEDs. The other authors declare no competing interests.

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The contributors

Jeanne Crassous is Director of Research at CNRS (Institut des Sciences Chimiques de Rennes, France). Her group develops heteroatomic and organometallic helicenes and chiral π-conjugated assemblies and examines their chiroptical (circular dichroism, circularly polarized luminescence), magnetic and spin-related (magnetochiral dichroism and chiral-induced spin selectivity effect) responses for optoelectronic and spintronic applications. She is also interested in fundamental aspects of chirality such as parity violation.

Matthew J. Fuchter is a Professor of Chemistry at Imperial College London. His group has broad research interests in the development of functional molecular systems for use in materials and medicine. One specific area of focus is the application of chirality to technologically relevant materials.

Danna E. Freedman is the F.G. Keyes Professor of Chemistry at MIT. Her laboratory’s research focuses on applying inorganic chemistry to address challenges in physics. Specific examples include harnessing the atomistic control inherent in synthetic chemistry to create molecular units for quantum information science, and creating new magnetic materials by using pressures comparable to planetary cores.

Nicholas A. Kotov is the Irving Langmuir Distinguished University Professor in Chemical Sciences and Engineering and the Joseph B. and Florence V. Cejka Professor of Engineering at the University of Michigan. He is a pioneer of biomimetic nanostructures and self-assembled nanomaterials. Chiral nanostructures represent a focal point of his current work with translation to physics, chemistry, biology and medicine. Nicholas is a recipient of the ACS Award for Outstanding Achievements in Nanoscience, Newton Award (DOD), Turnbull Lectureship (MRS), Soft Matter and Biophysical Chemistry Award (RSC). Nicholas is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the National Academy of Inventors. He is also an advocate for scientists with disabilities.

Jooho Moon is the Underwood Distinguished Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea, where he leads the Center for Spin-Green Hydrogen. His research interests include printed electronics, perovskite solar cells, photoelectrochemical water splitting and chiral perovskites. He is a member of Korean Academy of Science and Technology (KAST).

Matthew C. Beard is a Senior Research Fellow at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO, and Director of the Center for Hybrid Organic Inorganic Semiconductors for Energy (CHOISE). CHOISE studies the unique properties of hybrid semiconductors, including how chirality in the organic component can be utilized to control spin, charge and light in these hybrid systems. Matt’s work was recognized with the DOE’s E.O. Lawrence award and RSC Chemical Dynamics award.

Sascha Feldmann is a principal investigator and Rowland Fellow at Harvard University’s Rowland Institute. His research aims to transform the way we produce and consume energy as a society. Towards this aim, his group studies novel soft semiconductors for spin-optoelectronic applications using ultrafast polarization-resolved spectroscopy.

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Crassous, J., Fuchter, M.J., Freedman, D.E. et al. Materials for chiral light control. Nat Rev Mater 8, 365–371 (2023).

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