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Emergence of single-molecular chirality from achiral reactants.

Nature communications (2014-11-22)
René R E Steendam, Jorge M M Verkade, Tim J B van Benthem, Hugo Meekes, Willem J P van Enckevort, Jan Raap, Floris P J T Rutjes, Elias Vlieg
ABSTRACT

The synthesis of enantiopure molecules from achiral precursors without the need for pre-existing chirality is a major challenge associated with the origin of life. We here show that an enantiopure product can be obtained from achiral starting materials in a single organic reaction. An essential characteristic of this reaction is that the chiral product precipitates from the solution, introducing a crystal-solution interface which functions as an asymmetric autocatalytic system that provides sufficient chiral amplification to reach an enantiopure end state. This approach not only provides more insight into the origin of life but also offers a pathway to acquire enantiopure compounds for industrial applications.

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