Theory of Apparent Circular Dichroism Reveals the Origin of Inverted and Noninverted Chiroptical Response under Sample Flipping

Andrew Salij, Randall H. Goldsmith, Roel Tempelaar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Circular dichroism (CD) finds widespread application as an optical probe for the structure of molecules and supramolecular assemblies. Its underlying chiral light-matter interactions effectively couple between photonic spin states and select quantum-mechanical degrees of freedom in a sample, implying an intricate connection with photon-to-matter quantum transduction. However, effective transduction implementations likely require interactions that are antisymmetric with respect to the direction of light propagation through the sample, yielding an inversion of the chiroptical response upon sample flipping, which is uncommon for CD. Recent experiments on organic thin films have demonstrated such chiroptical behavior, which was attributed to "apparent CD"resulting from an interference between the sample's linear birefringence and linear dichroism. However, a theory connecting the underlying optical selection rules to the microscopic electronic structure of the constituent molecules remains to be formulated. Here, we present such a theory based on a combination of Mueller calculus and a Lorentz oscillator model. The theory reaches good agreement with experimental CD spectra and allows for establishing the (supra)molecular design rules for maximizing or minimizing this chiroptical effect. It furthermore highlights that, in addition to antisymmetrically, it can manifest symmetrically such that no chiroptical response inversion occurs, which is a consequence of a helical stacking of molecules in the light propagation direction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21519-21531
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number51
StatePublished - Dec 29 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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