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Optical Isomerism

1. Isomers

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In this first mini-lecture, Professor Bergbreiter first introduces the idea of isomerism: the different kinds of isomerism we can get and where optical isomers fit in the family. This special kind of isomer has a unique trait: that their mirror images are non-superimposable. We learn the definition of this term in the context of chemistry but also look at some real-world examples of where we can see this. Then returning to chemistry, we start to learn how non-superimposability of mirror images can give them different biological functions.


In this course, Professor David Bergbreiter (Texas A&M) introduces us to the concept of optical isomerism, the idea that certain molecules have mirror images of themselves which are non-superimposable, giving rise to a completely new set of properties. We begin by: (i) first looking at the concept of isomers, where optical isomers can be found and an initial concept of non-superimposability, then; (ii) talking about where optical isomers (or enantiomers) can be found in medicine and introducing optical activity; (iii) and then moving on to develop the idea of optical activity, and how we use that to name and identify different enantiomers, using various different examples; (iv) then briefly touching on other nomenclature and representations; (v) and finally using this new nomenclature we have learned on a more advanced level with real molecule.


Professor David Bergbreiter obtained his B.S from Michigan State and his PhD from MIT. He has worked as an academic in various places but he currently works at Texas A&M, receiving awards for his research and teaching at the university, including the South Eastern Conference Faculty Achievement Award (2017), the Regents' Professor Award (2016 – present), among many others. David Bergbreiter and his group explore new chemistry related to catalysis and polymer functionalization using the tools and precepts of synthetic organic chemistry to prepare functional oligomers or polymers that in turn are used to either affect catalysis in a greener, more environmentally benign way or to efficiently functionalize polymers. Often this involves developing new separation chemistry that creatively uses polymers but retains the reactivity of a low molecular weight catalyst, ligand, or reagent. These green chemistry projects involve fundamental research both in synthesis and catalysis but still have relevance to practical problems.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Bergbreiter, D. (2022, January 18). Optical Isomerism - Isomers [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Bergbreiter, D. "Optical Isomerism – Isomers." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 18 Jan 2022,

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