We demonstrate that the enantiomers of chiralmacromolecules at an aqueous interface can be distinguished with monolayer sensitivity using heterodyne-detected vibrational sum-frequency generation (VSFG). We perform VSFG spectroscopy with a polarization combination that selectively probes chiral molecular structures. By using frequencies far detuned from electronic resonances, we probe the chiral macromolecular structures with high surface specificity. The phase of the sum-frequency light generated by the chiral molecules is determined using heterodyne detection. With this approach, we can distinguish right-handed and left-handed helical peptides at a water-air interface. We thus show that heterodyne-detected VSFG is sensitive to the absolute configuration of complex, interfacial macromolecules and has the potential to determine the absolute configuration of enantiomers at interfaces.

J. Chem. Phys.
Ultrafast Spectroscopy

Lotze, S., Versluis, J., Olijve, L. L. C., van Schijndel, L., Milroy, L. G., Voets, I., & Bakker, H. (2015). Communication: Probing the absolute configuration of chiral molecules at aqueous interfaces. J. Chem. Phys., 143(Article number: 201101), 1–5. doi:10.1063/1.4936403