Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 99–111 | Cite as

The possibility of spontaneous resolution of enantiomers on a catalyst surface

  • L. G. Harrison


A model reaction system is discussed, in which an asymmetric molecule is formed on a solid catalyst surface, the stereospecificity of which can be modified by adsorption of the asymmetric product. Spontaneous resolution is shown to be possible if modification of one active site needs two adsorbed molecules. This discussion is related to:
  1. a)

    my suggestion (Harrison, 1973) that enantiomers of a biochemical system, or primitive organism, might separate territorially if the organism consisted of two parts, one in the ocean and the other sessile on the ocean floor, which must unite for stereospecific reproduction;

  2. b)

    the theory of “dissipative structures” (Prigogine, 1967; Glansdorff & Prigogine, 1971);

  3. c)

    possible active sites on transition metal surfaces (May, 1972) and on sulphides;

  4. d)

    conditions required in an experimental programme to achieve spontaneity in an asymmetric synthesis, and to prove that spontaneity has been achieved (considered in relation to a report of spontaneity by Isoda, Ichikawa & Shimamoto, 1958).


Key words

Asymmetric Catalysis Spontaneous Resolution Enantiomers Dissipative Structures Origin of Asymmetry 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. G. Harrison
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver 8Canada

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