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The optical trapping of molecules with an off-resonant laser beam involves a forward-Rayleigh scattering mechanism. It is shown that discriminatory effects arise on irradiating chiral molecules with circularly polarized light; the complete representation requires ensemble-weighted averaging to account for the influence of the trapping beam on the distribution of molecular orientations. Results of general application enable comparisons to be drawn between the results for two limits of the input laser intensity. It emerges that, in a racemic mixture, there is a differential driving force whose effect, at high laser intensities, is to produce differing local concentrations of the two enantiomers.
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