Research ArticlePHYSICS

Enantioselective fragmentation of an achiral molecule in a strong laser field

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Science Advances  08 Mar 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 3, eaau7923
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau7923


Chirality is omnipresent in living nature. On the single molecule level, the response of a chiral species to a chiral probe depends on their respective handedness. A prominent example is the difference in the interaction of a chiral molecule with left or right circularly polarized light. In the present study, we show by Coulomb explosion imaging that circularly polarized light can also induce a chiral fragmentation of a planar and thus achiral molecule. The observed enantiomer strongly depends on the orientation of the molecule with respect to the light propagation direction and the helicity of the ionizing light. This finding might trigger new approaches to improve laser-driven enantioselective chemical synthesis.

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