Chirally autocatalytic reaction performed in highly supersaturated conditions

K. Asakura, K. Kurihara, A. Ikumo, A. Tanaka, T. Miura, T. Ozawa, Y. Kushibe, S. Osanai, D. K. Kondepudi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Spontaneous chiral asymmetry generation, which is the preferential production of one enantiomer in a non-chiral environment by chiral autocatalysis, could be observed in a preparation of a octahedral cobalt complex, cis-[CoBr(NH3)(en)2]Br2. A concentration fluctuation in a far-from-equilibrium chemical system will grow if the rate of local autocatalytic production of a compound in a small volume overcomes its loss due to diffusion. In a chirally autocatalytic system, this phenomenon could produce a large variation in the enantiomeric excess. In a reaction that produces the cobalt complex, the reaction rate was found to increase in the highly supersaturated solution of the product. In supersaturated solutions, before crystals of the solute have nucleated, embryos, which are the clusters of the solute, are formed. Ternary water-solubility isotherm of each enantiomer of the cobalt complex suggests that each embryo consists of one exclusive enantiomer. Each chiral cluster, which could be regarded as polymeric material, thus formed in a highly supersaturated solution, may act as catalyst for the production of the same enantiomer. Life is a far-from-equilibrium self-organized polymeric system in which chiral symmetry is broken. This reaction system is thus a model for the generation and amplification of chiral asymmetry in polymeric materials; it provides some insight in to the mechanisms that might have produced the observed biomolecular homochirality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-14
Number of pages8
JournalMacromolecular Symposia
Publication statusPublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


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