Optical activity is the ability of a compound to rotate the plane of polarized light. This property arises from an interaction of the electromagnetic radiation of polarized light with the unsymmetric electric fields generated by the electrons in a chiral molecule.
Example of optical activity
- 2-chlorobutane is an optically active molecule having molecular formula C4H9Cl.
- A compound to be said as optically active is only if it has to have an asymmetric chiral carbon centre and a carbon is said to be chiral if the have different substituents attached.
- In 2-chlorobutane the carbon numbered as 2 in the molecule is chiral as it has different substituents [-C2H5, CH3, H, Cl] attached to it.
- It gives rise to enantiomers by rotating the plane of polarized light in different directions (R) and (S) of the compound.