Materials Research Science and Engineering Center
Inducing Chirality
Buckling-induced Reversible Symmetry Breaking
and Amplification of Chirality

Chirality is the inability of a structure to superimpose on its mirror image: It is what gives a screw its directionality and why a drill bit works only when turned in one direction. It is also essential for life: DNA is chiral, and many drugs are effective only for the correct chirality. A MRSEC team of theorists and experimentalists led by Bertoldi and Aizenberg has discovered a simple way to induce chirality by causing bending of a structure as it is swollen (above). This provides an alternative method to induce this very important property and opens new ways of making multi-functional structures that can change their properties depending on their environment.

D.A. Weitz