Single-handed resolve

It's the Holy Grail for many chemists - a solution to the problem of how to separate enantiomers, without using complicated chiral processes. Many have tried, many have failed, now we must hand it to Chinese researchers who claim to have cracked the chiral code. Chunying Duan and colleagues at Nanjing University observed spontaneous resolution of silver helicates without using any chiral additive. The key lies in the how the ligand bonds to the first metal center and passes on the chirality as the helix forms. C-H…pi and pi-pi stacking in the aromatic centers of the ligands result in only one handed form of the helicate forming and crystallizing.