Chiral electron transport: Scattering through helical potentials

Sina Yeganeh, Mark A. Ratner, Ernesto Medina, Vladimiro Mujica

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

153 Scopus citations


We present a model for the transmission of spin-polarized electrons through oriented chiral molecules, where the chiral structure is represented by a helix. The scattering potential contains a confining term and a spin-orbit contribution that is responsible for the spin-dependent scattering of electrons by the molecular target. The differential scattering cross section is calculated for right- and left-handed helices and for arbitrary electron spin polarizations. We apply our model to explain chiral effects in the intensity of photoemitted polarized electrons transmitted through thin organic layers. These are molecular interfaces that exhibit spin-selective scattering with surprisingly large asymmetry factors as well as a number of remarkable magnetic properties. In our model, differences in intensity are generated by the preferential transmission of electron beams whose polarization is oriented in the same direction as the sense of advance of the helix. This model can be easily extended to the Landauer regime of conductance where conductance is due to elastic scattering, so that we can consider the conductance of chiral molecular junctions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number014707
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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