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4.3: Stereoisomers

JoVE Core
Organic Chemistry

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4.3: Stereoisomers

On the basis of mirror symmetry, stereoisomers of an organic molecule can be further classified into diastereomers and enantiomers. Diastereomers are stereoisomers that are not mirror images of each other. Substituted alkenes, such as the cis and trans isomers of 2-butene, are diastereomers, as these molecules exhibit different spatial orientations of their constituent atoms, are not mirror images of each other, and do not interconvert. Here, the interconversion is suppressed due to restricted rotation around the π bond. Another class of diastereomers — those without π bonds — are molecules that have non-superposable spatial orientations and exhibit different configurations of their substituent groups at some, but not all, stereocenters. For example, cis-1,2-dimethylcyclohexane and trans-1,2-dimethylcyclohexane are diastereomers, as these molecules are not superposable and have a different configuration of the methyl and hydrogen groups at only one out of their two stereocenters.

Enantiomers are stereoisomers that are mirror images of each other. As only chiral molecules can have non-superposable mirror images, enantiomers are chiral molecules. For example, the chiral molecule 2-butanol and its mirror image are enantiomers, as these molecules exhibit non-superposable spatial orientations of their constituent atoms and are mirror images of each other. A chiral molecule and its mirror image are collectively referred to as an enantiomeric pair, or a pair of enantiomers. The enantiomer of a chiral molecule can be drawn by taking its mirror image from any position or exchanging the positions of two of the substituents at each stereocenter of the molecule.


Stereoisomers Mirror Symmetry Diastereomers Enantiomers Substituted Alkenes Cis And Trans Isomers Spatial Orientations Interconversion Restricted Rotation π Bond Non-superposable Stereocenters Chiral Molecules Mirror Images Configurations

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