Chirality is an important property in pharmaceuticals and is receiving increasing attention in cosmetics. What is it, and what is its significance in these two areas?
Before we answer these questions, you must remember that molecules are three dimensional (3-D), and saturated organic molecules are tetrahedral in shape. When we draw moleculare structures, the atoms or groups attached to a central saturated carbon will be viewed as being in the plane of the paper, above or below the plane. With this in mind, we define chirality as any molecule whose 3-D structure cannot be superimposed on its mirror image. Classically, the analogy is of a person's left and right hands, which are mirror images and cannot be superimposed on each other.
Excerpt Only This is a shortened version or summary of the article that appeared in the Mar. 1, 2004 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine. The full content is not currently available online.