Kanazawa, Japan - The concept of chirality can be challenging for the layperson, with "chemical handedness" seeming a very minor distinction.

However, as the consequences of the notorious thalidomide disaster illustrate, understanding chiral materials is a major concern.

A team involving researchers from Kanazawa University has reported a three-state switchable chiral stationary phase (CSP) that provides new opportunities in chiral separation.

Chiral high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) remains the most effective method for separating chiral molecules.

HPLC involves running samples through a tube--known as a column--containing chiral material (the CSP) that can differentiate between pairs of chiral molecules (enantiomers).

The researchers report a CSP based on a helical polymer material containing a chiral pendant group that causes the polymer to adopt different conformations in response to metal ions.

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