Capital HPLC

Introduction to Enantiomeric Separations

Introduction to Enantiomeric Separations

Chemical species are said to possess the property of chirality if a molecule and its mirror
image of that molecule are distinguishable, i.e., non-superimposable, see figure 1. In such
a situation the molecule and its mirror image are described as enantiomers orstereoisomers.
The fact that isolated enantiomers rotate the plane of polarised light
has given rise to the expression optical isomers. A substance which demonstrates
this is often referred to as an optically active compound.

Unless optical activity is already present in one or more of the any the starting materials, in
vitro synthetic routes to a compound which may potentially exhibit chirality, generally lead to
a mixture of containing equal amounts each enantiomer. Such a mixture is referred to as a
racemic mixture or simply a racemate.

With the exception of the rotation of plane polarised light, the enantiomers of a given
compound exhibit identical physical properties.
For this reason enantiomers cannot be separated by conventional means such as
distillation or simple chromatographic methods.

Chiral separations are generally accepted to involve a 3-point interaction with a system



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