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Isotropic chiral materials are rotationally symmetric but not mirror symmetric. Their salient optical property is that only a circularly polarized plane wave can propagate (in any direction) in them without change in polarization. In general, the major axis of an elliptically polarized plane wave changes direction—called optical rotation—and its ratio of minor to major axes increases. Such materials have different wavenumbers for circularly polarized waves of opposite handedness. The equations for arbitrary time-harmonic electromagnetic fields can be cast in a form such that every problem that has ever been solved for linear, isotropic achiral materials (such as reflection and transmission by layers, and scattering by particles) can also be solved for linear, isotropic chiral materials.
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