Departmental Seminar; 11th January 2017

6 January 2017

"Chiral nanomaterials and their applications"

by Prof Yurii K. Gun'ko

School of Chemistry and Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

Wednesday 11th January

3pm – 4pm 

Ramsay Lecture Theatre

Symmetry and chirality are properties commonly found throughout the natural world. Chirality is one of the most important factors in molecular recognition, with chiral compounds having a major role in chemistry, biology and medicine. Chirality has also been envisaged to play an important role in nanotechnology. Over the last years the area of chiral nanoparticles has received a great deal of attention due to the range of potential applications offered by these materials. The main aim of our work is to develop new types of technologically important inorganic nanoparticulate materials possessing optical activity and chirality, study their properties, investigate their nature and explore their applications. We have developed new chiral nanomaterials including chiral II-VI semiconducting nanoparticles (quantum dots) and chiral nanoparticles of technologically important metal oxides. In addition, we started to explore the properties of novel chiral 2D nanomaterials. The new nanomaterials have shown a very interesting optical activity and unusual chiral morphologies which were confirmed by various instrumental techniques. We have found that in some nanocrystals (e.g. CdSe/ZnS QDs and quantum rods) the chirality and corresponding optical activity are intrinsic features that can occur even without the presence of chiral ligands. The intrinsic chirality of the CdSe based nanocrystals is caused by the presence of intrinsically occurring chiral defects such as dislocations or point defects in these nanostructures. The use of chiral ligands enabled us to separate these nanostructures into different phases and enhance their chiroptical activity. We have demonstrated potential applications of chiral quantum dots for chiral recognition and luminescent chemo- and bio- sensing. We have also found that live cells demonstrate an enantioselective uptake of chiral quantum nanostructures. It is expected that chiral nanomaterials will find applications in sensing, nanomedicine, asymmetric synthesis, catalysis and other areas.