Chiral Center Definition in Chemistry

Chiral Center Definition in Chemistry

Chiral Center Definition

A chiral center is defined as an atom in a molecule that is bonded to four different chemical species, allowing for optical isomerism. It is a stereocenter that holds a set of atoms (ligands) in space such that the structure may not be superimposed on its mirror immage.

Chiral Center Examples

The central carbon in serine is a chiral carbon. The amino group and hydrogen can rotate about the carbon.

While chiral centers in organic chemistry tend to be carbon atoms, other common atoms include phosphorus, nitrogen, and sulfur. Metal atoms may also serve as chiral centers.


  • Mislow, Kurt; Siegel, Jay (1984). "Stereoisomerism and local chirality". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 106 (11): 3319. doi:10.1021/ja00323a043
  • Solomons, T. W. Graham; Fryhle, Craig (2004). Organic Chemistry (8th ed.). John Wiley & Sons.