Separation of Enantiomers by Their Enantiospecific Interaction with Achiral Magnetic Substrates

Ron Naaman and Yossi Paltiel describe the separation of enantiomers by using achiral magnetic substrates.

The chemical building blocks of life and many biologically active materials such as drugs and pesticides are molecules that have either right- or left-handed configuration. Chiral molecules having the same chemical composition but different ‘handed-ness’ may have extremely different biological effects. One in-famous example is the drug thalidomide, which was marketed in racemic form, as a mixture of its two enantiomers; one had the desired therapeutic effect while the other caused severe birth defects. Similar problems with other drugs incentivized the marketing of enantiomerically pure materials in the pharmaceutical industry. For example, today only 13% of chiral drugs are marketed as single stereoisomers, although FDA regulatory recommendations are to achieve separation in all drugs.


A decade of research collaboration between Professor Ron Naaman at the Weizmann Institute (Israel) and Professor Yossi Paltiel at the Hebrew University (Israel) led to results recently published in Science that show chiral-selective affinity of molecules to magnetic surfaces.


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