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This phenomenon is explained by optical isomerism.

Stereochemistry is the branch of chemistry that involves “ the study of the different spatial arrangements of atoms in molecules” .

Stereochemistry is the systematic presentation of a specific field of science and technology traditionally requires a short preliminary excursion into history. Stereochemistry is the ‘chemistry of space ‘, that is stereochemistry deals with the spatial arrangements of atoms and groups in a molecule.

Stereochemistry can trace its roots to the year 1842 when the French chemist Louis Pasteur made an observation that the salts of tartaric acid collected from a wine production vessel have the ability to rotate plane-polarized light , whereas the same salts from different sources did not have this ability. This phenomenon is explained by optical isomerism.

Stereoisomerism refers to “the isomerism that is caused by the non-similar arrangements of atoms or functional groups belonging to an atom in space” . These types of isomers have the same constitutions, but different geometric arrangements of atoms. Stereoisomers can be broadly classified into two types, namely enantiomers and diastereomers .

An illustration of enantiomers that are mirror images of each other is provided below.

Enantiomers in Stereochemistry – Mirror Image

Chirality is an important property of asymmetry in many branches of science. The term chirality is derived from a common chiral entity, the Greek “side”. If distinguishable from its mirror image, an entity or system is chiral; that is to say, it can not be superimposed over it.

Enantiomers contain non-superimposable chiral centres & mirror images. They come in pairs only! Chiral centres found in diastereomers are non-superimposable but are NOT mirror images. Depending on the number of stereo centres, there can be several more than 2.

Superimposable: The ability to position an object over another object, usually in such a way that all objects can be visible. Often interchanged with a wider superposable concept (the right to position an object over another object; without limitation of visibility).

A racemic mixture exhibits no optical behaviour because enantiomers have equal and opposite unique rotations. Therefore, using polarimetry alone, it is difficult to tell a racemic mixture apart from an achiral material. Chiral molecules consist of a racemic mixture, but it has no net optical activity.

The arrangement of stereoisomers is defined by stereochemistry. The key distinction between regiochemistry and stereochemistry is that the atomic structure of the final result of a chemical reaction is represented by regiochemistry, while stereochemistry explains the atomic arrangement and modification of molecules.

Thus, an introduction to the branch of chemistry known as stereochemistry is provided in this article. To learn more about stereoisomerism and other types of isomerism , register with StudySolver and download the mobile application on your smartphone.

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Atropisomerism is the property of any molecule or an object of being non-superimposable on its mirror image.

Cis-trans isomerism shares the same atoms which are joined to one another in the same way but have a different configuration.

Conformational isomerism is a type of stereoisomerism in which isomers can only be converted by formally single bond rotations.

Diastereomers are optically active isomers that are not enantiomers.

An enantiomer is one of a pair of optical isomers, the structures of which are not superimposable on their mirror images.