Chiral electrochemistry

Chiral electrochemistry, including enantioselective electroanalysis, enantioselective electrosynthesis as well as spin-selective current generation, is an attractive area with a huge applicative potential yet to be explored.

All electrochemical processes are intrinsically “intelligent”, since they are driven by controlling the electrical potential, which enables fine tuning as well as mild and ecocompatible working conditions; moreover, electrical potentials and currents are the most convenient experimental parameters for trans­duction of recognition events and signal processing.

However, chirality can make electrochemical pro­cesses even smarter, endowing them with a superior level of selectivity, and making them applicable to issues of much higher added value, for instance in the pharmaceutical and biological fields (e.g. developments of artificial electrodes capable to discriminate and quantify the enantiomer composition of chiral analytes), and/or in smart devices (e.g. based on electrochemical generation of spin-selective currents).

Of course, as for any physical chemistry approach, electrochemical processes in themselves are not enantioselective, since enantiomers of chiral molecules have the same physical and chemical properties.

Thus, in order for them to become enantioselective, the electron transfer must take place under diastereoisomeric conditions, implying the use of a chiral environment, be it a chiral electrode surface, or a chiral working medium.