Encyclopedia of Biophysics

Living Edition
| Editors: Gordon Roberts, Anthony Watts, European Biophysical Societies

Circular Dichroism and Chirality

  • Alison RodgerEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-35943-9_646-1



Molecules that cannot be superposed on their mirror images are known as “chiral,” from the Greek word χειρ. We use the word “superpose” to indicate they must be able to coincide, rather than the more commonly used superimposed which requires no such identity. Examples of chiral molecules are given in Fig. 1. A molecule is achiral (i.e., not chiral) if it has a reflection plane or inversion center, so its mirror image can be rotated round to look exactly like the starting molecule. Circular dichroism (CD) is the difference in absorption of left and right circularly polarized light (Cantor and Schimmel 1980; Craig and Thirunamachanrdan 1984; Michl and Thulstrup 1986; Rodger and Nordén 1997; Barron 2004; Nordén et al. 2010).
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Copyright information

© European Biophysical Societies' Association (EBSA) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Molecular SciencesMacquarie UniversityMacquarie ParkAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Alison Rodger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Molecular Sciences, Macquarie UniversityNWSAustralia