Elucidation of the origin of chiral amplification in discrete molecular polyhedra
Chiral amplification in molecular self-assembly has profound impact on the recognition and separation of chiroptical materials, biomolecules, and pharmaceuticals. An understanding of how to control this phenomenon is nonetheless restricted by the structural complexity in multicomponent self-assembling systems. Here, we create chiral octahedra incorporating a combination of chiral and achiral vertices and show that their discrete nature makes these octahedra an ideal platform for in-depth investigation of chiral transfer. Through the construction of dynamic combinatorial libraries, the unique possibility to separate and characterise each individual assembly type, density functional theory calculations, and a theoretical equilibrium model, we elucidate that a single chiral unit suffices to control all other units in an octahedron and how this local amplification combined with the distribution of distinct assembly types culminates in the observed overall chiral amplification in the system. Our combined experimental and theoretical strategy can be applied generally to quantify discrete multi-component self-assembling systems.