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What is Chirality?

by Joy_Chemistry

Chirality is an important property of asymmetry in many branches of science. The term chirality is derived from a common chiral unit, the Greek “side”. In contrast to its mirror image, an entity or a system is chiral; that is, it cannot be overlaid.

A chiral molecule or ion exists in two stereoisomers that are mirror images of each other, called enantiomers; they are often distinguished as “right-handed” or “left-handed” by their absolute configuration or other criteria. The two enantiomers show similar chemical properties with the exception that they react with other chiral compounds. the physical properties are also similar wit exception of having opposite optical properties. A Racemic a homogeneous mixture having equal parts of two enantiomers and show differences physically and chemically from pure Enantiomers

A stereocenter or a chiral centre is at least  present in a chiral molecule or ion, for example an atom which bounds by four different groups tetrahedrally; in the case of chiral organic compounds, this is usually an asymmetric carbon. When this center coincides with an atom, it is point chirality. Multiple stereocenters leads to an addition of stereocenters and can possess more than one stereoisomer that are not chiral.

Features of Chirality

Chirality is an important concept in stereochemistry and biochemistry. Most of the substances relevant to biology are chiral, such as carbohydrates (sugar, starch and cellulose), amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins, and nucleic acids. Only one of the two enantiomers of a chiral compound is normally present in living organisms. For this reason, organisms that consume a chiral compound can generally only metabolize one of its enantiomers. For the same reason, the two enantiomers of a chiral drug generally have very different potencies or effects.

In chemistry, a molecule or ion is chiral if it cannot superimpose on its mirror image by any combination of rotations, translations and some conformational changes. This geometric property is chirality.

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