PI: Nisha Shukla
Co-PI(s): Andrew Gellman
University: Carnegie Mellon University
Known characteristics of life on Earth is the chirality of the compounds that serve as the basis for life. Most naturally occurring biomolecules are chiral but enantiomerically pure in living organisms; e.g. all DNA is right-handed and all amino acids are left-handed. One of the most interesting questions concerning life on Earth is the origin of their homochirality. One of the most important consequent impacts on our daily life is the need for enantiomerically pure pharmaceuticals. The physiological impact of chiral bioactive compounds such as fragrances, pharmaceuticals, and pesticides depends on their handedness. Enantiomerically pure production of these compounds is one of the most challenging forms of chemical manufacturing, but is key to a >$200B /year industry. Because molecular chirality is inherently nanoscaled, enantioselective chemical manufacturing requires materials that are chiral at the nanoscale for use as catalysts, sensing, chirooptical devices, and enantiomeric separations.