Chiral optical forces and matter-wave interferometry

Chiral molecules of opposite handedness interact with circularly polarized light in different ways. The resulting effects, such as optical rotation and circular dichroism are established measurables for quantifying molecular chirality.  In this project, we study chiral light molecule interaction in the context of optical forces and matter-wave physics. Off-resonant interactions of optical fields with chiral molecules give rise to forces that are specific to the handedness of the molecules [1]. Such discriminatory forces result mainly from contributions of magnetic dipole and electric quadrupole terms. We aim at the experimental observation of discriminatory optical forces on chiral molecules, pushing the understanding and control of optical forces beyond the traditional electric-dipole limit and make a first step towards the regime of matter-wave interferometry. In the longer term, this promises a platform for quantum-assisted metrology of chiral molecules and can be employed to explore the coherence and decoherence dynamics (Hund’s paradox) of tunneling chiral systems [2].

[1] R. P. Cameron, S. M. Barnett, S. M. & A. M. Yao, Discriminatory optical force for chiral molecules. New J. Phys. 16, 013020 (2014).

[2] B. A. Stickler, M. Diekmann, R. Berger & D. Wang, Enantiomer superpositions from matter-wave interference of chiral molecules. arXiv:2102.06124 (2021).