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Difference between Chiral and Achiral

Difference between Chiral and Achiral

Chemistry has two different types of molecules: chiral and achiral. Chiral molecules have a handedness, while achiral molecules do not. In this blog post, we will explore the difference between chiral and achiral molecules and their implications in chemistry. Stay tuned!

What is Chiral?

Chiral is a term that is used to describe an object that is non-superimposable on its mirror image. In other words, if you were to look at an object and its mirror image, you would be able to tell that they are not the same. Chiral objects are found in nature, and they can also be created artificially. Enantiopure compounds are one type of chiral substance. These compounds have a definitive left-handed or right-handed orientation, which means that they can rotate the plane of polarized light. Other common examples of chiral objects include your hands, DNA, and certain types of crystals. Although we often think of chiral objects as being Mirror Images, this is not always the case. In fact, some chiral objects actually have the same handedness as their mirror images. For instance, your left hand is the mirror image of your right hand, but they are both left-handed. Similarly, your right foot is the mirror image of your left foot, but they are both right-footed. This may seem counterintuitive, but it is actually quite common in nature.

What is Achiral?

In chemistry, achiral molecules are those that are not optically active. That is, they cannot be divided into mirror images that are non-superimposable. The word “achiral” comes from the Greek prefix “a-,” meaning “without,” and the root “khēr,” meaning “hand.” Together, these terms refer to the fact that achiral molecules cannot be distinguished from their mirror images by looking at them with the naked eye. Common examples of achiral molecules include water and ethanol. While all achiral molecules are necessarily symmetrical, not all symmetrical molecules are achiral. For example, the molecule glucose is asymmetrical, but it is still optically active. As a result, it is classified as chiral, not achiral.

Difference between Chiral and Achiral

In chemistry, the terms “chiral” and “achiral” describe the symmetry of an object. A chiral object is one that cannot be superimposed on its mirror image, while an achiral object can. The word “chiral” comes from the Greek word for hand, which is one of the most familiar examples of a chiral object. Our hands are mirror images of each other, but they cannot be superimposed. The term “achiral” describes objects that do have this property, such as a round ball. In addition to being superimposable on their mirror images, achiral objects also have a plane of symmetry. This means that they can be divided into two identical halves by a plane passing through them. Chiral objects lack this plane of symmetry. Although chiral and achiral objects are both three-dimensional, the term “achirality” can also apply to molecules that are two-dimensional or even one-dimensional. For example, some molecules can exist in either left-handed or right-handed forms, and these are called chiral molecules. Other molecules, such as water, can exist in both forms but are identical regardless of their handedness; these are called achiral.


Now that we’ve defined chirality and achiral, let’s take a look at some everyday examples. Achiral objects are found in nature and include things like water (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and methane (CH4). Chiral molecules, on the other hand, are not found naturally but can be created in a laboratory. Some common chiral molecules include DNA, caffeine, and aspartame. So what’s the difference between these two types of molecules? The most obvious distinction is that achiral objects have an exact mirror image while chiral objects do not.

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