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Nat Commun. 2014 Nov 21;5:5543. doi: 10.1038/ncomms6543.

Emergence of single-molecular chirality from achiral reactants.

Author information

  • 1Institute for Molecules and Materials, Radboud University Nijmegen, Heyendaalseweg 135, 6525 AJ Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
  • 2Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Leiden University, Einsteinweg 55, 2333 CC Leiden, The Netherlands.


The synthesis of enantiopure molecules from achiral precursors without the need for pre-existing chirality is a major challenge associated with the origin of life. We here show that an enantiopure product can be obtained from achiral starting materials in a single organic reaction. An essential characteristic of this reaction is that the chiral product precipitates from the solution, introducing a crystal-solution interface which functions as an asymmetric autocatalytic system that provides sufficient chiral amplification to reach an enantiopure end state. This approach not only provides more insight into the origin of life but also offers a pathway to acquire enantiopure compounds for industrial applications.

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