Chiral molecular films as electron polarizers and polarization modulators

Ernesto Medina*, Floralba López, Mark A. Ratner, Vladimiro Mujica

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


Recent experiments on electron scattering through molecular films have shown that chiral molecules can be efficient sources of polarized electrons even in the absence of heavy nuclei as source of a strong spin-orbit interaction. We show that self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) of chiral molecules are strong electron polarizers due to the high-density effect of the monolayers and explicitly compute the scattering amplitude off a helical molecular model of carbon atoms. Longitudinal polarization is shown to be the signature of chiral scattering. For elastic scattering, we find that at least double-scattering events must take place for longitudinal polarization to arise. We predict energy windows for strong polarization, determined by the energy dependences of spin-orbit strength and multiple scattering probability. An incoherent mechanism for polarization amplification is proposed, that increases the polarization linearly with the number of helix turns, consistent with recent experiments on DNA SAMs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17006
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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