Oct 17, 2022

Changing direction: Research team discovers switchable electronic chirality in an achiral Kagome superconductor

Posted by in categories: biological, chemistry, quantum physics

An international research team led by the Department of Microstructured Quantum Matter at the MPSD reports the first observation of switchable chiral transport in a structurally achiral crystal, the Kagome superconductor CsV3Sb5. Their work has been published in Nature.

Whether or not an object is indistinguishable from its mirror image has important consequences for its physical behavior. Say you watch a basketball player in a mirror. The ball, the player and their surroundings are, at first glance, just the same in the mirror as in real life. But if observed closely, some details are different. The ball in the player’s now appears in their left hand in the mirror. While the mirror image still shows the same hand, it has clearly changed from a left to a right hand or vice versa. Many other physical objects also have that differ in a key aspect, just like hands, which is why scientists call them handed or chiral (from Greek χϵρι = hand). Others, like the ball, cannot be distinguished from their mirror image, which makes them achiral.

Chirality is one of the most fundamental geometric properties and plays a special role in biology, chemistry and physics. It can cause surprising effects: One version of the carvone molecule, for example, produces a spearmint smell but its chiral—mirrored—equivalent smells of caraway.

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