Jump to main content
Jump to site search
Access to RSC content Close the message box

Continue to access RSC content when you are not at your institution. Follow our step-by-step guide.

Issue 53, 2020
Previous Article Next Article

Polarized light through polycrystalline vaterite helicoids

Author affiliations


Vaterite helicoids [W. Jiang et al., Nat. Commun., 2017, 8, 15066] are chiral, polycrystalline suprastructures grown in the presence of the amino acids, aspartic (Asp) or glutamic (Glu) acid, that are abundant in proteins regulating biomineralization. These complex objects are composed of hexagonal vaterite nanocrystals assembled as curved-edge platelets that form chiral ensembles. The sense stacked platelets is correlated with the stereochemistry of the amino acid additive: L-Asp gives counterclockwise architectures while D-Asp gives the clockwise enantiomorphs. As new layers stack, platelets become progressively inclined with respect to the substrate suface. The growth and structure of vaterite helicoids was originally evidenced by electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy. Here, we develop an optical model for describing polarized light transmission through helicoids as measured by Mueller matrix polarimetry. The close agreement between experimental measurements and simulation confirms that the propellor-like organization of inclined platelets creates optically active structures determined by growth additive stereochemistry. The microscopy employed demonstrates the information that can be obtained by complete polarimetry using a camera as a light detector, a technique that could be applied profitably to all manner of complex structures organized from anisotropic particles.

Graphical abstract: Polarized light through polycrystalline vaterite helicoids

Back to tab navigation

Supplementary files

Article information

16 Mar 2020
14 May 2020
First published
02 Jun 2020

Chem. Commun., 2020,56, 7353-7356
Article type

Polarized light through polycrystalline vaterite helicoids

M. Tan, W. Jiang, A. T. Martin, A. G. Shtukenberg, M. D. McKee and B. Kahr, Chem. Commun., 2020, 56, 7353
DOI: 10.1039/D0CC01958E

Social activity

Search articles by author