Right- and left-handed circularly polarized light (CPL) has been proposed as one of the origins of homochirality of biomolecules. However, the enantiomeric excess induced by CPL has been only very low (<2% ee). We found the unprecedented example of asymmetric autocatalysis triggered directly by a chiral physical factor, that is, right- and left-handed CPL, leading to a near enantiopure compound. Asymmetric photolysis of racemic pyrimidyl alkanol by r-CPL irradiation followed by asymmetric autocatalysis affords (R)-pyrimidyl alkanol with >99.5% ee. On the other hand, irradiation with l-CPL affords (S)-pyrimidyl alkanol with >99.5% ee. Thus, chiral physical power, such as CPL, in conjunction with asymmetric autocatalysis, provides a highly enantioenriched compound.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry