Chiral discrimination of vapours plays an important role in olfactory perception of biological systems and its realization by artificial sensors has been an intriguing challenge. Here, we report a simple method that tangibly visualizes the chirality of a diverse variety of molecules dissolved from vapours with high sensitivity, by making use of a structural change in a periodic microstructure of a nematic liquid crystal confined in open microchannels. This microstructure is accompanied by a topological line defect of a zigzag form with equal lengths of 'zig' and 'zag.' We find that a tiny amount of vapour of chiral molecules injected onto the liquid crystal induces the imbalance of 'zig' and 'zag' depending on its enantiomeric excess within a few seconds. Our liquid-crystal-based 'chirality balance' offers a simple, quick and versatile chirality-sensing/-screening method for gas-phase analysis (for example, for odours, environmental chemicals or drugs).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)