What is a stereo centre and a chiral centre?

Stereocenter and chiral centre come under the topic of optical isomerism.

Chiral centre

A chiral centre is an atom that has four different groups bonded to it in such a manner that it has a non-superimposable mirror image. The term “chiral centre” nowadays is also referred to the term chirality centre.


  • Chirality is defined as an object which is asymmetric and cannot be superimposed over its mirror image is known as chiral or stereocenter. This property is known as chirality. For example- our Hand, legs etc.
  • The object which is symmetric in nature and can be superimposed over its mirror image is known as achiral. For example- cube, cone etc.
  • The chirality is due to the three-dimensional or spatial arrangements of molecules.

Chiral describes an atom that has four separate groups attached to it, while enantiomers describe the two stereoisomer relations. Enantiomers also have chiral centres in the molecules, but not all molecular stereoisomers are mutually enantiomers.


The atom connected to four different atoms is best referred to as a stereogenic centre or simply a stereocenter.

  • A widely used although somewhat misleading alternative name for a stereocenter is a localized around the central atom, whereas chirality is a property of the molecule as a whole that cannot be localized around one atom or a group of atoms.
  • The presence of a stereocenter is not a requirement for a molecule to exhibit chirality; it is simply the most common cause of chirality.

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