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Reversible Optical Transcription of Supramolecular Chirality into Molecular Chirality

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Science  09 Apr 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5668, pp. 278-281
DOI: 10.1126/science.1095353

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Abstract

In nature, key molecular processes such as communication, replication, and enzyme catalysis all rely on a delicate balance between molecular and supramolecular chirality. Here we report the design, synthesis, and operation of a reversible, photoresponsive, self-assembling molecular system in which molecular and supramolecular chirality communicate. It shows exceptional stereoselectivity upon aggregation of the molecules during gel formation with the solvent. This chirality is locked by photochemical switching, a process that is subsequently used to induce an inverted chiral supramolecular assembly as revealed by circular dichroism spectroscopy. The optical switching between different chiral aggregated states and the interplay of molecular and supramolecular chirality offer attractive new prospects for the development of molecular memory systems and smart functional materials.

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