Simulation of the chiral sum frequency generation response of supramolecular structures requires vibrational couplings

Daniel Konstantinovsky, Ethan A. Perets, Elsa C.Y. Yan, Sharon Hammes-Schiffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Chiral vibrational sum frequency generation (SFG) spectroscopy probes the structure of the solvation shell around chiral macromolecules. The dominant theoretical framework for understanding the origin of chiral SFG signals is based on the analysis of molecular symmetry, which assumes no interaction between molecules. However, water contains strong intermolecular interactions that significantly affect its properties. Here, the role of intermolecular vibrational coupling in the chiral SFG response of the O-H stretch of water surrounding an antiparallel β-sheet at the vacuum-water interface is investigated. Both intramolecular and intermolecular couplings between O-H groups are required to simulate the full lineshape of the chiral SFG signal. This dependence is also observed for a chiral water dimer, illustrating that this phenomenon is not specific to larger systems. We also find that a dimer of C3v molecules predicted to be chirally SFG-inactive by the symmetry-based theory can generate a chiral SFG signal when intermolecular couplings are considered, suggesting that even highly symmetric solvent molecules may produce chiral SFG signals when interacting with a chiral solute. The consideration of intermolecular couplings extends the prevailing theory of the chiral SFG response to structures larger than individual molecules and provides guidelines for future modeling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12072-12081
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number43
StatePublished - Nov 4 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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