Characterization of Crystal Chirality in Amino Acids Using Low Frequency Raman Spectroscopy

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We present a new method for differentiating racemic crystals from enantiopure crystals. Recently, developments in optical filters have enabled the facile use of Raman spectroscopy to detect low-frequency vibrational (LFV) modes. Here, for the first time, we use Raman spectroscopy to characterize the LFV modes for crystalline organic materials composed of chiral molecules. The LF-Raman spectra of racemic and enantiopure crystals exhibit a significant variation, which we attribute to different hydrogen-bond networks in the chiral crystal structures. Across a representative set of amino acids, we observed that when comparing racemic versus enantiopure crystals, the available LFV modes and their relative scattering intensity are strong functions of side chain polarity. Thus, LF-Raman can be used as a method that is complementary to the currently used methods for characterizing crystal chirality due to simpler, faster, and more sensitive measurements, along with the small sample size required, which is limited by the laser-beam diameter in the focus.
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