Chirality and spin in organic molecules

Speaker:Karen Michaeli
Affiliation:Weizmann Institute of Science
Time:14:30 - 15:30
Location:Lidow Rosen Auditorium (323)

In the late 19th century, Louis Pasteur discovered that biology shows a preference for molecules with a certain handedness.  Ever since, researchers have been trying to understand the origin of life's homochirality and its implications. For example, electron transport in organisms, which is an essential part of basic biological processes such as respiration and photosynthesis, is realized via insulating helical molecules. Recent studies further found that the transmission probability of electrons through such molecules is strongly spin-dependent, with the preferred spin direction set by the chirality. This direct connection between spin and chirality raises numerous fundamental questions and thus opens a new arena of research at the interface between biology and quantum physics. In my talk, I will review the most important experimental findings and describe a theoretical model that explains the origin of the spin-dependent transport. §In particular, the helical geometry induces robust spin filtering accompanied by, and intimately related to, strongly enhanced overall transmission through chiral molecules. In addition, I am going to present some recent experimental results and several new ideas for integrating organic molecules into solid state devices for the purpose of spintronic applications. Finally, I will outline several future research directions that aim to understand the importance of spin for various biological processes.