The Hund paradox and stabilization of molecular chiral states

Yuri A. Berlin*, Alexander L. Burin, Vitalii V. Goldanskii

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The "paradox of optical isomers" revealed by Hund in 1927 is re-examined taking into account the interaction of a chiral molecule with phonons of optically inactive solids below the Debye temperature θD. It has been shown, that in the strong coupling limit, where the dephasing rate is much higher than the energy splitting frequency, the interaction can lead to a complete loss of coherence between mirror-antipodal states of the molecule due to the phonon-induced dephasing. This, in turn, suppresses tunnelling oscillations between them, so that transitions, which are reversible in time for an isolated chiral molecule become irreversible for the same molecule placed in a low-temperature matrix. In order to propose a particular mechanism of such stabilization, contributions of a single- and multi-phonon processes in the dephasing rate have been evaluated. It has been established that only the two-phonon scattering provides the sufficiently strong dephasing in low-temperature solids. Such a two-phonon mechanism is responsible for the stabilization of molecular chiral states as long as the temperature of the medium is lower θD, but exceeds a few Kelvin degrees. These findings are discussed in the context of the evolutionary concept known as "the cold prehistory of life".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-339
Number of pages7
JournalZeitschrift fur Physik D-Atoms Molecules and Clusters
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics

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