A growing demand for chiral molecules in bio-technologies and drug manufacturing makes enantio-selective heterogeneous catalysts highly desirable. As a consequence, the last decade has seen a dramatic increase in research into chiral surface systems. Achiral surfaces can be modified with chiral organic molecules to create enantio-selective reaction environments. We use synchrotron-based spectroscopies, such as XPS and NEXAFS, alongside LEED and temperature-programmed desorption to characterize the thermal stability, bond coordination and orientation of modifier molecules on achiral and intrinsically chiral model catalyst surfaces. The talk will concentrate on small chiral amino acids (e.g. alanine, serine) on Cu and Ni surfaces.