Extracting Pure Circular Dichroism from Hierarchically Structured CdS Magic Cluster Films

Yuan Yao, Thomas J. Ugras, Talisi Meyer, Matthew Dykes, Da Wang, Arantxa Arbe, Sara Bals, Bart Kahr, Richard D. Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chiroptically active, hierarchically structured materials are difficult to accurately characterize due to linear anisotropic contributions (i.e., linear dichroism (LD) and linear birefringence (LB)) and parasitic ellipticities that produce artifactual circular dichroism (CD) signals, in addition to chiral analyte contributions ranging from molecular-scale clusters to micron-sized assemblies. Recently, we have shown that CdS magic-sized clusters (MSC) can self-assemble into ordered films that have a hierarchical structure spanning seven orders of length-scale. These films have a strong CD response, but the chiral origins are obfuscated by the hierarchical architecture and LDLB contributions. Here, we derive and demonstrate a method for extracting the "pure"CD signal (CD generated by structural dissymmetry) from hierarchical MSC films and identified the chiral origin. The theory behind the method is derived using Mueller matrix and Stokes vector conventions and verified experimentally before being applied to hierarchical MSC and nanoparticle films with varying macroscopic orderings. Each film's extracted "true CD"shares a bisignate profile aligned with the exciton peak, indicating the assemblies adopt a chiral arrangement and form an exciton coupled system. Interestingly, the linearly aligned MSC film possesses one of the highest g-factors (0.05) among semiconducting nanostructures reported. Additionally, we find that films with similar electronic transition dipole alignment can possess greatly different g-factors, indicating chirality change rather than anisotropy is the cause of the difference in the CD signal. The difference in g-factor is controllable via film evaporation geometry. This study provides a simple means to measure "true"CD and presents an example of experimentally understanding chiroptic interactions in hierarchical nanostructures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20457-20469
Number of pages13
JournalACS nano
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 27 2022


  • Mueller matrix
  • anisotropic circular dichroism
  • hierarchical nanostructure
  • magic-sized cluster
  • self-assembly
  • supramolecular chirality control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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