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Mirror-image molecules pulled apart
© Kumiko Shimizu/EyeEm/Getty
Applying an electric potential can help to separate mixtures of two molecules that are mirror images of each other, a study co-led by researchers at the Vidyasirimedhi Institute of Science and Technology has shown.
Enantiomers are mirror-image versions of the same molecule. Despite their similar structures — which makes them difficult to separate — enantiomers can have very different biological behaviours. For example, one enantiomer can have beneficial medicinal properties, while the other can be toxic.
One recently developed technique for separating enantiomers is to create porous metal surfaces in which one enantiomer is used as a template to imprint cavities into the metal. When a mixture of enantiomers is passed over the imprinted material, the enantiomer used as the template preferentially sticks to the surface.
This effect can be significantly enhanced by applying an electric potential, the new research has shown. The electric potential can increase the electrostatic attraction between the imprinted enantiomer and the metal surface, thereby improving the separation of the enantiomers.
- Angewandte Chemie International Edition 58, 3471–3475 (2019). doi: 10.1002/anie.201812057
|Institute of Molecular Sciences (ISM), France||0.70|
|Vidyasirimedhi Institute of Science and Technology (VISTEC), Thailand||0.30|