ECD exciton chirality method today: a modern tool for determining absolute configurations

November 23, 2021


ECD exciton chirality method today: a modern tool for determining absolute configurations


Gennaro Pescitelli






The application of the exciton chirality method (ECM) to interpret electronic circular dichroism (ECD) spectra is a well-established and still popular approach to assign the absolute configuration (AC) of natural products, chiral organic compounds, and organometallic species. The method applies to compounds containing at least two chromophores with electric dipole allowed transitions (e.g., π–π* transitions). The exciton chirality rule correlates the sign of an exciton couplet (two ECD bands with opposite sign and similar intensity) with the overall molecular stereochemistry, including the AC. A correct application of the ECM requires three main prerequisites: (a) the knowledge of the molecular conformation, (b) the knowledge of the directions of the electric transition moments (TDMs), and (c) the assumption that the exciton coupling mechanism must be the major source of the observed ECD signals. All these prerequisites can be easily verified by means of quantum-mechanical (QM) calculations. In the present review, we shortly introduce the general principles that underpin the use of the ECM for configurational assignments and survey its applications, both classic ones and some reported in the recent literature. Based on these examples, we will stress the advantages of the ECM but also the key requisites for its correct application. Additionally, we will discuss the dependence of the couplet sign on geometrical parameters (angles α,β,γ between TDMs), which can be helpful for discerning the sign of exciton chirality in ambiguous situations. Finally, we will present a molecular orbital (MO) description of the exciton coupling phenomenon.




Exciton, coupling, Absolute configuration, Circular dichroism, ECM, QM calculation