Paper Written by Professors and Graduate School Students from Tokyo University of Science Published in the Digital Version of the American Science Journal Science
“Asymmetric Autocatalysis Triggered by Carbon Isotope Chirality,” a paper written by Junior Assistant Professor Tsuneomi Kawasaki, Professor Kenso Soai (also of the Chiral Materials Research Center of the Research Institute for Science and Technology), and graduate school students Yukari Matsumura, Takashi Tsutsumi, Kenta Suzuki, and Masateru Ito of the Faculty of Science Division I, Department of Applied Chemistry of the Tokyo University of Science, was published in the digital version of the American science journal Science (Science Express), on March 26.
Professor Soai and others have been conducting research on a phenomenon in the Soai reaction, which is an asymmetric autocatalysis reaction in which a product acts as an asymmetric catalyst to synthesize itself, where a slight bias in the early stage of the reaction is amplified significantly due to the asymmetric autocatalysis and becomes an enantiomer in nearly a single direction only.
Junior Assistant Professor Kawasaki and others have conducted asymmetric autocatalysis under the existence of chiral compounds based on differences in carbon isotopes (13C and 12C), which have never been used before in asymmetric reactions. As a result, they discovered that chiral products that correspond to the three-dimensional form of the isotopic asymmetric compound can be obtained in a high enantiomeric excess.
The carbon atoms in organic compounds such as amino acids and sugars that comprise organisms are mostly 12C but contain 1.1% of 13C as well. Asymmetry resulting from carbon isotopes has been completely ignored in the past. This research has large scientific significance in that it demonstrates for the first time that asymmetry of carbon isotopes controls asymmetric reactions. In addition, many organic compounds that had not been recognized as being chiral are now acknowledged as becoming chiral when taking carbon isotopes into consideration, and this research also presents the possibility of carbon isotopes serving as the origin of asymmetry.
Out of the approximately 20 papers that are published every week in Science, the digital version of the journal (Science Express) features several of the papers that the editors select every week as being important. The selected papers are made available for reading at an earlier timing that the printed version.
Summary of paper; entire paper can be viewed in PDF format both on an on-campus computer and from the link on the homepage of Soai Research Group.
Digital version of Science (Science Express)
Homepage for Soai Research Group