What are Enantiomers?

What are enantiomers? Enantiomers are molecules that are mirror images but cannot be superimposed.

To better understand what are enantiomers, let’s use a real-life example– your hands! Hold them in front of each other and you will see that they are mirror images and good luck trying to superimpose your left over your right hand! This means that if a molecule has one stereogenic center, and it has the S configuration, its enantiomer would contain an R stereogenic center.

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These molecules at first glance look exactly the same. But, as with your hands, try to rotate one on top of the other, and you can’t do it. Build a model if you don’t believe it. When talking about what are enantiomers, it’s really important to understand that, although the 2 molecules are related as enantiomers, they are two totally different molecules with potentially different chemical properties. These molecules are enantiomers.

In summary, enantiomers are molecules in which all stereogenic centers are in the opposite configuration (R or S).