What is stereochemistry Why is it important

The Stereochemistry deals with the reactions and properties of molecules taking into account the spatial structure. The chemical and physical properties of a molecule result from the three-dimensional arrangement of its atoms in space and thus from the distribution of electrons in the molecule.

Stereospecificity is the designation for the preferred formation of one of two possible steroisomeric reaction products. The property of stereospecificity is of particular importance during polymerization for the properties of plastics.

For stereochemical considerations of a molecule, its constitution, configuration and conformation are important. Compounds which have the same number and type of atoms and thus identical masses and which have differences in the three properties mentioned above are referred to as isomers.

The theory of the spatial arrangement of atoms was initiated by van't Hoff and Le Bel in 1874 and is based on three findings developed in the 19th century:

  • the atomic theory
  • the structural theory of chemical bonds
  • and optical rotation.


  • Jost Weyer: One Hundred Years of Stereochemistry - A Review of the Most Important Development Phases. In: applied Chemistry. Volume 86, No. 17, 1974, pp. 604-611, ISSN 0044-8249
  • Adam Sobanski, Roland Schmider, Fritz Vögtle: Topological stereochemistry and chirality. In: Chemistry in our time. Volume 34, No. 3, 2000, pp. 160-169, ISSN 0009-2851

See also

Category: Branch of chemistry