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J Phys Chem A. 2007 Oct 25;111(42):10604-8. Epub 2007 Oct 4.

A photochemical mechanism for homochirogenesis.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996-1600, USA.


Theoretical analysis of one-step and multiple-step photoreactions initiated with circularly polarized light shows that the enantiomeric excess of a chiral reactant approaches +/- 1 as the amount of unreacted reactant approaches 0. The final product never has a large enantiomeric excess at any stage of its formation and slowly decreases to 0 at the completion of the reaction. For multiple-step reactions the behavior of the intermediate photoproducts is much more interesting. During certain stages of the overall reaction both the size of the enantiomer excess and the amount of a given intermediate photoproduct are large. Furthermore, the sign of the enantiomeric excess of an intermediate may change during the course of the reaction. Multiple-step photoreactions initiated with circularly polarized light may be a method by which the exogenous and endogenous synthesis of optically active molecules occurred in the prebiotic universe.

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