What is catalytic asymmetric synthesis?

Web Adapted Version of the Nobel Poster from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

  The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2001     
       
     
 

(R)-alanine
R refers to the Latin word rectus, meaning right.
(S)-alanine
S refers to the Latin word sinister, meaning left.

When alanine is produced in a laboratory under normal conditions, a mixture is obtained, half of which consists of (R)-alanine and half of (S)-alanine.

In an asymmetric synthesis an excess of one of these forms is produced. To achieve this, in a catalytic way – that is, with the aid of a molecule that speeds up the reaction without being consumed itself – is what this year’s Nobel Laureate’s have accomplished.

Since the cells’ actors are chiral, many pharmaceutical drugs also have to be chiral. Thus a flourishing pharmaceutical industry has grown up in the wake of the Laureates’ achievements.

 
 
     
 
Based on materials from the 2001 Nobel Poster for Chemistry.
 

To cite this section
MLA style: What is catalytic asymmetric synthesis?. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2018. Mon. 10 Dec 2018. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/2001/9100-what-is-catalytic-asymmetric-synthesis/>

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