Uncovering the chiral bias of meteoritic isovaline through asymmetric photochemistryOPEN ACCESS 

Jana Bocková, Nykola C. Jones, Jérémie Topin, Søren V. Hoffmann & Cornelia Meinert

Nature Communications, Volume 14, Article number: 3381


“Systematic enrichments of l-amino acids in meteorites is a strong indication that biological homochirality originated beyond Earth. Although still unresolved, stellar UV circularly polarized light (CPL) is the leading hypothesis to have caused the symmetry breaking in space. This involves the differential absorption of left- and right-CPL, a phenomenon called circular dichroism, which enables chiral discrimination. Here we unveil coherent chiroptical spectra of thin films of isovaline enantiomers, the first step towards asymmetric photolysis experiments using a tunable laser set-up. As analogues to amino acids adsorbed on interstellar dust grains, CPL-helicity dependent enantiomeric excesses of up to 2% were generated in isotropic racemic films of isovaline. The low efficiency of chirality transfer from broadband CPL to isovaline could explain why its enantiomeric excess is not detected in the most pristine chondrites. Notwithstanding, small, yet consistent l-biases induced by stellar CPL would have been crucial for its amplification during aqueous alteration of meteorite parent bodies.”