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Left hand / right hand?

Some molecules exist in two forms - a left handed and right handed form.

Year 13 chemistry students will find out that molecules can be "handed". This is the result of property known as chirality. 

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Chemistry Nobel awarded for mirror-image molecules - BBC News

Two scientists have been awarded the 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on building molecules that are mirror images of one another.

When a carbon atom within a molecule is bonded to four different groups ( e.g. methyl, hydrogen, amino, and carboxylic acid) the molecule can exist in two different forms (enantiomers) . Each enantiomer is a mirror image of the other.

 The two forms (enantiomers) of the same molecule are almost identical but cannot be superimposed on one another. They are non-superimposable mirror images. 


Amino acids 

Chirality with hands
Glycine is the simplest amino acid and is not chiral

Naturally occurring amino acids ( with the exception of glycine) all possess a chiral carbon atom. This means that there are at least two possible forms of these molecules. The two forms are given the label L (left handed) or D (right handed) .

Most naturally occurring amino acids are the L form.


You can zoom and rotate the two molecules below. However much you rotate either of them - they will never be identical...

L - Glutamic acid  

D - Glutamic acid  

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