Enantiomers are chemical isomers that are non-superimposable mirror images of each other. Therefore, two enantiomers of a chemical compound will have the same chemical bonds but completely opposite three-dimensional structures. It is important to note that enantiomers are isomers that are not exactly the same as each other, and they cannot be superimposed on each other. Moreover, these types of stereoisomers can be considered as mirror images of each other.
A common example of a pair of enantiomers is dextro lactic acid and laevo lactic acid, whose chemical structures are illustrated below.
Another important example of an enantiomer pair is provided below.
The names of these isomers are S- and R- methylchlorophenoxypropionic acid (often abbreviated to MCPP and referred to as mecoprop). This compound is known to be a mixture of S- and R- enantiomers, of which the R- enantiomer is known to possess herbicidal properties. Therefore, this compound is widely used as a herbicide.
It is important to note that unlike cis and trans isomers, almost all pairs of enantiomers tend to have similar physical properties such as solubility and melting point. However, they are known to rotate light in opposite directions (both the enantiomers of a compound must be optically active).
Frequently Asked Questions on Examples of Enantiomers
What is the difference between enantiomers and diastereomers?
Enantiomers can be defined as the stereoisomers that exist as mirror images of each other and are non-superimposable on each other. On the other hand, diastereomers can be defined as the stereoisomers that contain at least two stereocenters. It is important to note that these types of isomers are not mirror images of each other.
Are enantiomers chiral?
Enantiomers can be considered as pairs of stereoisomers that are chiral in nature. A chiral molecule and its mirror image are non-superimposable, meaning that the mirror image is actually a separate molecule. The central atom in such molecules is called a chiral centre or a stereo centre.
Are enantiomers optically active compounds?
Yes, it is true that all enantiomers are known to be optically active. Optical activity is one of the core properties of enantiomers. This is because enantiomers are isomers which are non-super-imposable mirror images of each other and, therefore, tend to rotate light in opposite directions.
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