Organic Chemistry

Structures and Nomenclature

What is chirality?

Chiral objects have nonsuperimposable mirror images. What does that mean? Superimposable means one object can be placed over another, or less technically, that they’re identical. So enantiomers are not identical, but they are mirror images. Take a look at your hands—they are enantiomers. If you put one hand up to a mirror, it looks like your other hand (so they are mirror images). But if you try to put one hand on top of your other (no, not palm to palm, that’s cheating), you see they’re not identical (therefore nonsuperimposable).


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