Chiroptical anisotropy of crystals and molecules

Alexander T. Martin, Shane M. Nichols, Veronica L. Murphy, Bart Kahr

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Optical activity, a foundational part of chemistry, is not restricted to chiral molecules although generations have been instructed otherwise. A more inclusive view of optical activity is valuable because it clarifies structure-property relationships however, this view only comes into focus in measurements of oriented molecules, commonly found in crystals. Unfortunately, measurements of optical rotatory dispersion or circular dichroism in anisotropic single crystals have challenged scientists for more than two centuries. New polarimetric methods for unpacking the optical activity of crystals in general directions are still needed. Such methods are reviewed as well as some of the 'nourishment' they provide, thereby inviting to new researchers. Methods for fitting intensity measurements in terms of the constitutive tensor that manifests as the differential refraction and absorption of circularly polarized light, are described, and examples are illustrated. Single oriented molecules, as opposed to single oriented crystals, can be treated computationally. Structure-property correlations for such achiral molecules with comparatively simple electronic structures are considered as a heuristic foundation for the response of crystals that may be subject to measurement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8107-8120
Number of pages14
JournalChemical Communications
Issue number66
StatePublished - Aug 25 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • General Chemistry
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Catalysis


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