Right handed or left handed? Forbidden X-ray diffraction reveals chirality

Yoshikazu Tanaka, Tomoyuki Takeuchi, Stephen W. Lovesey, Kevin S. Knight, Ashish Chainani, Yasutaka Takata, Masaki Oura, Yasunori Senba, Haruhiko Ohashi, Shik Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Enantiomers, or stereoisomers, have crystal structures that are mirror images of each other and are thus handed, like our right and left hands. The physical properties of enantiomers are identical except for optical activity, which rotates linearly polarized light by equal amounts but in opposite directions. While conventional x-ray Bragg diffraction can determine crystal structures, it does not distinguish between right- and left-handed crystals. We show resonant Bragg diffraction using circularly polarized x rays reveals the handedness of crystals by coupling x-ray helicity to a crystal screw axis. The intensity of resonantly allowed reflection of α-quartz is well described by an admixture of a parity-even and a parity-odd process. Our results are of general importance and demonstrate a new method to directly study chiral motifs in structures that include biomaterials, liquid crystals, magnets, multiferroics, etc.

Original languageEnglish
Article number145502
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Apr 8

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Right handed or left handed? Forbidden X-ray diffraction reveals chirality'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this