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Fast and accurate enantiomeric and chemical analysis

Project description

Monitoring chiral mixtures in real time with light

Chemical formulas tell us which elements are present in a compound and how many atoms there are of each. When it comes to their arrangement, there can be a surprisingly large number of possibilities, and the structural differences can impact properties and activities. Chiral molecules are one example. Given the relevance and abundance of chiral molecules in nature, choosing the appropriate form of a molecule is critical to many applications. Currently, there is no way to quantify the relative percentages of the two forms quickly and accurately during industrial processing. The EU-funded FastEE project is leveraging light to achieve this in an extremely sensitive physical process that will enable monitoring in real time.


Chiral molecules exist as two forms, called enantiomers, which are mirror images of each other but which are not superimposable. Living organisms are built upon chiral elementary blocks. Biological processes can thus be extremely sensitive to chirality. Two enantiomers can have different smells or tastes. More critically, a chiral molecule can have healing properties while its mirror image is a poison. This makes the measurement of enantiomeric excess (EE), which quantifies the relative composition of the two images in a mixture, crucial for many industrial sectors: fragrance and food industry, pharmaceutics, agrochemistry. To improve product quality, lower health risks, and optimize processes to reduce chemical waste, it would be necessary to monitor EE continuously. Yet, this task is currently impossible because there is no fast and accurate enough EE measurement method. The FastEE project aims at solving this issue by using a new physical process which is extremely sensitive to chirality. By investigating the photoionization of chiral molecules by elliptically polarized light, we found out that the angular distribution of the ejected electrons carried rich information on the ionized molecules as well as their enantiomeric purity. Continuously modulating the ellipticity of the ionizing radiation while recording images of the photoelectron distribution enables the chemical composition and EE of mixtures to be followed in in real-time.
FastEE aims at:
(i) designing a demonstrator instrument using this method, optimized for an applicative environment,
(ii) optimizing the method for the accurate analysis of complex chiral mixtures in real-time,
(iii) investigating transfer and commercialization strategies.
After completion of the three phases, we will be able to offer a new solution (instrument and methodology) for chiral analysis, enabling fast and continuous measurements with excellent accuracy - which is not possible with current technologies.


Net EU contribution
€ 137 049,71
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Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
Activity type
Research Organisations
EU contribution
No data

Beneficiaries (2)