The etching induced by water on hydrophobic (001) surfaces of enantiomeric l-, d- and racemic dl-valine crystals has been characterized by means of atomic force microscopy (AFM) at ambient conditions. Well-defined chiral parallelepipedic shallow patterns, one bilayer deep, are observed for the enantiomeric crystals with sides (steps) oriented along low index crystallographic directions. Hence, chirality can be readily identified by visual inspection of an AFM image after etching. The formation of such regular patterns can be rationalized using basic concepts of electrical dipolar interactions. The key factor that determines the relative etching rate for each step and thus defines the shape of the etching patterns is the orientation of the molecular dipoles with respect to the step edge. The simplicity of the approach allows the prediction of the effect of water etching on other amino acid crystals as well as the effect of the interaction of water with amino acid molecules forming part of more complex structures. © 2011 the Owner Societies.
|Journal||Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics|
|Publication status||Published - 28 Dec 2011|