Self-directing chiral information in solid–solid transformation: unusual chiral-transfer without racemization from amorphous silica to crystalline silicon
Constructing novel chiral inorganic nanomaterials is an emerging branch in chirality research. In this work, by employing a solid magnesiothermic reaction at 500–600 °C, we reduced chiral SiO2 nanofibers with average diameter ∼10 nm into chiral Si nanoplates with a size of about several hundred nm. The chirality of the as-prepared Si was judged by the pair of signals with a mirror relationship between 400–500 nm that appeared on the solid-state diffuse reflectance circular dichroism (DRCD) spectra for the L- and D-form Si. Furthermore, the chirality was also confirmed by induced vibrational circular dichroism (VCD) signals corresponding to the absorption bands in the infrared range of achiral organics (polyvinylpyrrolidone K90 and trimethoxyphenylsilane) absorbed onto chiral Si. The as-used SiO2 nanofibers possessed an ultra high-temperature (up to 900 °C) resistant chirality, which would be due to the asymmetric arrangement of Si and O atoms in small chiral domains (<10 nm) on the Si–O–Si network of SiO2. During the removal of oxygen atoms from Si–O–Si by Mg atoms, the arrangement of newly formed Si–Si bonds as well as the growth of Si crystals were still templated without racemization from the chiral information in SiO2. Consequently, the subnano/nano-scale (<10 nm) chiral information was in situ transferred via the so-called self-transfer mechanism, even though there was no retention of the outward shapes of the length-scale nanofiber SiO2 reactants in the Si products. This work offers a feasible chemical method to prepare chiral Si using abundant SiO2 raw materials.