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Packing of Helices: Is Chirality the Highest Crystallographic Symmetry?

Institut des Matériaux Jean Rouxel (IMN), Université de Nantes, CNRS, 2 rue de la Houssinière, BP 32229, 44322 Nantes cedex 3, France
Department of Chemistry, Northwestern University, 2145 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60201-3113, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Ning Ye
Crystals 2016, 6(9), 106;
Received: 31 July 2016 / Revised: 16 August 2016 / Accepted: 22 August 2016 / Published: 30 August 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nonlinear Optical Crystals)
PDF [1391 KB, uploaded 30 August 2016]


Chiral structures resulting from the packing of helices are common in biological and synthetic materials. Herein, we analyze the noncentrosymmetry (NCS) in such systems using crystallographic considerations. A comparison of the chiral structures built from helices shows that the chirality can be expected for specific building units such as 31/32 or 61/65 helices which, in hexagonal arrangement, will more likely lead to a chiral resolution. In these two systems, we show that the highest crystallographic symmetry (i.e., the symmetry which can describe the crystal structure from the smallest assymetric unit) is chiral. As an illustration, we present the synthesis of two materials ([Zn(2,2’-bpy)3](NbF6)2 and [Zn(2,2’-bpy)3](TaF6)2) in which the 3n helices pack into a chiral structure. View Full-Text
Keywords: Crystallography; Chirality; Helical System; Oxide-fluorides Crystallography; Chirality; Helical System; Oxide-fluorides

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Gautier, R.; Poeppelmeier, K.R. Packing of Helices: Is Chirality the Highest Crystallographic Symmetry? Crystals 2016, 6, 106.

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