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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. 


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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