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optical activity

A sample of material able to rotate the plane of polarization of a beam of transmitted plane-polarized light is said to possess optical activity (or to be optically active). This optical rotation is the classical distinguishing characteristic (sufficient but not necessary) of systems containing unequal amounts of corresponding enantiomers. An enantiomer causing rotation in a clockwise direction (when viewed in the direction facing the oncoming light beam) under specified conditions is called dextrorotatory and its chemical name or formula is designated by the prefix (+)-; one causing rotation in the opposite sense is laevorotatory and designated by the prefix (−)-. Materials with optical activity also exhibit other chiroptic phenomena.
PAC, 1996, 68, 2193 (Basic terminology of stereochemistry (IUPAC Recommendations 1996)) on page 2212
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IUPAC. Compendium of Chemical Terminology, 2nd ed. (the "Gold Book"). Compiled by A. D. McNaught and A. Wilkinson. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford (1997). XML on-line corrected version: (2006-) created by M. Nic, J. Jirat, B. Kosata; updates compiled by A. Jenkins. ISBN 0-9678550-9-8.
Last update: 2014-02-24; version: 2.3.3.
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