Detecting chirality in molecules by imaging photoelectron circular dichroism

M.H.M. Janssen, I. Powis

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In this Perspective we discuss photoelectron circular dichroism (PECD), a relatively novel technique that can detect chiral molecules with high sensitivity. PECD has an enantiomeric sensitivity of typically 1-10%, which is two to three orders of magnitude larger than that of the widely employed technique of circular dichroism (CD). In PECD a chiral molecule is photoionized with circular polarized light, and the photoelectron angular scattering distribution is detected using particle imaging techniques. We present the general physical principles of photoelectron circular dichroism and we address both single- and multiphoton excitation. PECD has been measured with synchrotron radiation in single-photon ionization as well as, very recently, with femtosecond laser radiation in multiphoton ionization. We discuss the experimental implementation of PECD, focusing on velocity map coincidence imaging where the momentum distribution of both the electron and the coincident ion is measured. The coincident detection of the mass and momentum of the ion adds very powerful mass-correlated information to the PECD measurement of the chiral molecule. We illustrate the capabilities and the potential of PECD with various experimental examples and introduce computational methods that are able to model quantitatively experimental PECD results. We conclude with an outlook on novel developments and (analytical) implementations of PECD that may further broaden the application of PECD for the sensitive detection of chirality in molecules. © 2014 the Owner Societies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)856-871
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics - PCCP
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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