Chiral Symmetry Breaking in Sodium Chlorate Crystallizaton

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Science  16 Nov 1990:
Vol. 250, Issue 4983, pp. 975-976
DOI: 10.1126/science.250.4983.975


Sodium chlorate (NaClO3) crystals are optically active although the molecules of the compound are not chiral. When crystallized from an aqueous solution while the solution is not stirred, statistically equal numbers of levo (L) and dextro (D) NaClO3 crystals were found. When the solution was stirred, however, almost all of the NaClO3 crystals (99.7 percent) in a particular sample had the same chirality, either levo or dextro. This result represents an experimental demonstration of chiral symmetry breaking or total spontaneous resolution on a macroscopic level brought about by autocatalysis and competition between L- and D-crystals.