Two photon absorption; two photon circular dichroism; electronic circular dichroism; hexahelicene; nonlinear dicrhoism


Back in 1894 Lord Kelvin coined the term "chiral" in order to refer to molecules whose mirror images were not superimposable with themselves. Over the years, research has demonstrated the important role that chiral molecules play in life, chemistry, and biology as well as their importance in the development of new drugs and technologies. The efforts to understand chiral systems have been mainly driven by spectroscopic methods that leverage on the opposite responses that enantiomers have to linear or circularly polarized light of both handedness. More specifically, Electronic Circular Dichroism (ECD) which measures the differences in linear absorption of left and right circularly polarized light has been the method par excellence for the spectroscopic characterization of chiral compounds. Unfortunately, the fact that ECD is based on linear absorption severely limits the use of this method in the near to far UV region. This is mainly due to the interferences generated by the strong linear absorption of common organic solvents and buffers in this portion of the light spectrum. Nevertheless, the fact remains that many chiral biomolecules of interest related to deceases like Alzheimer and Parkinson, exhibit most of their linear absorption in the near to far UV region where ECD cannot be employed for their study. Therefore, it has become an urgent necessity to develop spectroscopic methods to study chiral molecules that can circumvent the limitations of ECD at shorter wavelengths. In order to overcome the existent limitations in linear chiral spectroscopy, the nonlinear equivalent of ECD arises as a promising alternative, i.e. Two-Photon Circular Dichroism (TPCD). Although, this phenomenon was theoretically predicted in 1975, it was not until 2008, with the introduction of the double-L scan, that a reliable and versatile method for the measurement of TPCD was introduced. The high sensitivity of this method is based on the use of "twin" pulses that allow accounting for fluctuations in the excitation source that prevented the experimental realization of the measurement. The first measurement of a full TPCD spectrum was performed on BINOL enantiomers and the results were supported and discussed with the help of theoretical calculations. After that seminal work, we embarked in expanding the understanding of the structure-property relationship of TPCD by performing, systematically, a series of theoretical-experimental studies in chiral biaryl derivatives and compounds with helical chirality. In Chapter 2 we present the theoretical-experimental study of the effect of the π-electron delocalization curvature on the TPCD of molecules with axial chirality. The targeted molecules for this part of our investigation were S-BINOL, S-VANOL, and S-VAPOL. Our findings revealed that an increase in the TPCD signal, within this series of compounds, was related to the curvature of the π–electron delocalization. The contributions of the different transition moments to the two-photon rotatory strength support our outcomes. Then, in Chapter 3 we introduce the development of the Fragment-Recombination Approach (FRA) for the calculation of the TPCD spectra of large molecules. This simple but powerful method is based on the additivity of the TPCD signal, and is subject to a strict conditional fragmentation approach. FRA-TPCD is demonstrated, theoretically, in two hypothetical molecular systems from the biaryl derivatives family. Afterward, in Chapter 4 we show the first experimental demonstration of FRA-TPCD through the conformational analysis of an axially-chiral Salen ligand in solution (AXF-155). The FRA-TPCD spectra calculated for the different isomers of AXF-155 allowed narrowing the number of possible isomers of this complex molecule in THF solution to only two. This represents a significant improvement from previously reported results using ECD. Subsequently, in Chapter 5 we present the study of the effect of intramolecular charge transfer (ICT) in S-BINAP, an axially dissymmetric diphosphine ligand with strong ICT. The evaluation of the performance of two different exchange-correlation functional (XCF) confirmed that in order to properly predict the theoretical TPCD spectrum of a molecule exhibiting strong ICT, it is required to use an XCF such as CAM-B3LYP. In addition, our findings revealed the importance of considering an adequate number of excited states in order to be able to fully reproduce the experimental TPCD spectrum, thus avoiding wrong assignments of theoretical transitions to experimental spectral features. Finally, and expanding on our previous study, in Chapter 6 we investigated the effect of the nature of ICT on two hexahelicene derivatives. Our investigation demonstrated that the TPCD signal of chiral molecules with strong ICT does not only depend on the strength of this effect but on its nature, i.e. extension of the π–electronic delocalization increasing beyond (EXO-ICT) or within (ENDO-ICT) the helicene core. In summary, with the results presented in this thesis we closed a first loop in the understanding of the structure-property relationship of TPCD. In the future, we expect to deepen in our knowledge of the structure-property relationship of this phenomenon by studying further helicene derivatives with donor-acceptor motif, and through the application of FRA-TPCD to the conformational analysis of amino acids in peptides. We foresee numerous applications of TPCD for the study of optically active molecules with implications in biology, medicine, and the drug and food industry, and applications in nanotechnology, asymmetric catalysis and photonics.


If this is your thesis or dissertation, and want to learn how to access it or for more information about readership statistics, contact us at

Graduation Date





Hernandez, Florencio


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program









Release Date

August 2015

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic

Included in

Chemistry Commons