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We introduce interference-contrast optical activity (ICOA) as a new technique for probing the chirality of anisotropic samples and more. ICOA could underpin a new class of ‘chiral microscopes’, with potential applications spanning the range of chirality and beyond. Two possible versions of ICOA are described explicitly; one designed to probe the optical rotation of a transparent sample regardless of the sample’s linear birefringence (ICOA-OR) and another designed to probe gradients in the optical rotation of a transparent sample (ICOA-GOR). Simulated results for α-quartz lead us to suggest that ICOA-GOR might be applied to help monitor the growth of chiral crystals in the pharmaceutical industry. Possible directions for future research are highlighted.
- optical activity