PI: Andrew Gellman
Co-PI(s): Nisha Shukla
University: Carnegie Mellon University

Control of molecular chirality (handedness) is critically important in the field of pharmaceuticals production. It is also one of the most challenging forms of chemical synthesis because the two enantiomers of a chiral pharmaceutical have identical properties in achiral environments. Surfaces with chiral structures at the atomic level are often used as chiral environments for production of enantiomerically pure chiral products. Most often, the chirality of such surfaces derives from adsorbed monolayers of chiral organic molecules. Gellman and Shuckla discovered the existence of intrinsically chiral metal surfaces and their group has pioneered the study and understanding of their enantiospecific chemistry.

Chiral surfaces are the high Miller index planes of crystalline metals with no bulk mirror planes perpendicular to the exposed surfaces. These have been shown to exhibit extremely high enantiospecificities in various surface reactions.

One of the interesting challenges that now faces the ultimate exploitation of chiral metal surfaces is the need for their production by scalable, cost effective means. A number of possible methods for manufacturing chiral metal surfaces in large surface area formats have been discussed recently.

This proposal requests funds to demonstrate a new approach that is based on the use of Rolling Assisted Biaxially Textured Substrates (RABiTS) which have been developed as substrates for growth of high Tc superconductors.

In essence, RABiTS are rolled metal foils that are giant single crystals. The work proposed will serve as the proof-of-concept demonstration that the surfaces of RABiTS can be nanotextured to yield naturally chiral surface orientations in large area formats. These will be shown to have enantiospecific interactions with chiral adsorbates. This proof-of-concept demonstration will serve as the basis for federal funding to establish a new research direction.