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Discuss the Optical Activity of Lactic Acid. - Chemistry

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Discuss the optical activity of lactic acid.

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Solution

(1) Lactic acid contains one asymmetric carbon atom which is attached to four different groups, COOH, CH3, OH and H.

(2) Two different arrangements of these groups around the carbon atom are possible as shown in the figure. Hence, it exist as a pair of enantiomers. The two enantiomers are mirror images of each other and are non-superimposable.

(3) Hence, lactic acid can exist in two different forms, d-Form and l-form, which are non-superimposable mirror images of each other. d-form rotates the plane of plane-polarized light to the right, while l-form rotates the same to the left.

(4) A mixture containing equimolar amounts of the d- and l-forms is a racemic mixture which is optically inactive (dl - form). This inactivity arises due to external compensation.

Concept: Proteins - Structure of Proteins
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