Phenomenon of Chirality


Professor Dieter Enders, Director of the Institute of Organic Chemistry at RWTH Aachen


The Lecture

The phenomenon of chirality, that is, that an object and its reflection are not identitical, is present in all areas of world known to us: from the smallest dimension of nuclear physics, specifically partiy violation, to chemistry, biology, and medicine at the molecular level, to objects of daily use, architecture, and entire spiral galaxies as the largest structures.

Chiral, mirror-imaged molecules or enantiomers play a particularly central role in chemistry. Generally, the biological activity of enantiomers is different such as in pharmaceuticals, pesticides, artificial flavoring, oderants, which makes it necessary to produce agents free of enantiomers. The most elegant method is certanly asymmetrical synthesis, the development of which our working group has been involved in since the pioneering ages of the mid-seventies.

In the lecture, which was given on October 30, 2015, simple examples were used to explain the phenomenon of chirality and the principal of asymmetrical synthesis.

The Speaker

  • Born on March 17, 1946, in Butzbach, Hessen
  • Studied chemistry at the University of Gießen
  • Doctorate at the University of Gießen, 1974
  • Postdoc at Harvard University, USA, 1974 to 1975
  • Postdoctoral lecture qualification in organic chemistry at the University of Gießen, 1979
  • Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Bonn, 1980 to 1985
  • Professor and Director of the Institute of Organic Chemistry at RWTH Aachen University, as of 1985
  • Senior professor at RWTH, 2014.
  • Member of the Senate of the German Research Foundation, 2008 to 2014
  • Member of Leopoldina, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Chemical Societies of America, Japan, and Switzerland. Numerous roles, committee memberships, prizes, and honors including the Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation in 1993; Yamada Prize, Japan in 1995; the Max Planck Research Award for Chemistry in 2000; the Emil Fischer Medaille, GDCh in 2002; the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, USA in 2008; the Robert Robinson Award, UK in 2010; an ERC Advanced Grant in 2012; and the Ryoji Noyori Prize, Japan in 2014.