Tunable plasmonic superchiral light for ultrasensitive detection of chiral molecules

Aritra Biswas, Muhammad W. Shabbir, Manobina Karmakar and Debashis Chanda

Science Advances 10, 8 (2024)
The accurate detection, classification, and separation of chiral molecules are pivotal for advancing pharmaceutical and biomolecular innovations. Engineered chiral light presents a promising avenue to enhance the interaction between light and matter, offering a noninvasive, high-resolution, and cost-effective method for distinguishing enantiomers. Here, we present a nanostructured platform for surface-enhanced infrared absorption–induced vibrational circular dichroism (VCD) based on an achiral plasmonic system. This platform enables precise measurement, differentiation, and quantification of enantiomeric mixtures, including concentration and enantiomeric excess determination. Our experimental results exhibit a 13 orders of magnitude higher detection sensitivity for chiral enantiomers compared to conventional VCD spectroscopic techniques, accounting for respective path lengths and concentrations. The tunable spectral characteristics of this achiral plasmonic system facilitate the detection of a diverse range of chiral compounds. The platform’s simplicity, tunability, and exceptional sensitivity holds remarkable potential for enantiomer classification in drug design, pharmaceuticals, and biological applications.