Optical Isomerism

Optical Isomers Definition

Optical isomerism arises due to chirality or asymmetry of the molecule. Optical isomers resemble one another in chemical properties and most of their physical properties but differ in their behavior towards polarized light. The isomer, which rotate the plane of polarized light clockwise is called dextro rotatory isomer (d - isomer) and the one which rotate the plane of polarized light anticlockwise is called laevo rotatory isomer (l - Isomer).

The necessary condition for a molecule to be optically active is asymmetry or chirality of the molecule. Chirality is not just the presence of the asymmetric carbon atom but asymmetry of the molecule as a whole. Most of the chiral molecule contains at least one asymmetric carbon atom (Chiral Carbon atom). Still, there are some organic molecules which exhibit optical isomerism with out having chiral carbon (example: Substituted biphenyls). Some of the organic molecules are optically inactive even though they contain chiral carbon. This is due to internal compensation.

Examples of Optical Isomerism

Optical Isomers of Tartaric acid (HOOC-CHOH-CHOH-COOH)

Optical Isomers of lactic acid

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