American Chemical Society
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Emergence and Amplification of Chirality via Achiral–Chiral Polymorphic Transformation in Sodium Chlorate Solution Growth

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posted on 2014-07-02, 00:00 authored by Hiromasa Niinomi, Hitoshi Miura, Yuki Kimura, Makio Uwaha, Hiroyasu Katsuno, Shunta Harada, Toru Ujihara, Katsuo Tsukamoto
Chiral symmetry breaking during the chiral crystallization from a sodium chlorate (NaClO3) aqueous solution is an intriguing phenomenon because it provides insights into the prebiotic process of biohomochirality. However, a mechanism of the emergence and amplification of chirality remains controversial, especially for crystallization from highly supersaturated solution, and one of the hypotheses proposed before is a transition toward the homochiral state during the early stages of crystallization. In this contribution, we directly examined the early stage of crystallization by in situ polarized-light microscopy. The observation revealed that achiral crystals, which appear prior to the formation of chiral crystals, transform to the chiral crystal through two kinds of polymorphic transformations: (1) martensitic transformation (MT) and (2) solution-mediated phase transition (SMPT). The SMPT is remarkably facilitated by contact with a chiral crystal. Notably, the resulting enantiomorph through contact-facilitated SMPT is strongly directed by the contacting enantiomorph. In contrast, the MT yields two enantiomorphs in equal probability. The emergence and amplification of chirality has generally been considered to be a result of direct nucleation of a chiral crystal and its fragmentation. In contrast, our observations provide a possibility that the MT and contact-facilitated SMPT play a role for the emergence and amplification of chirality, respectively.