Enantioseparation by crystallization using magnetic substrates

Francesco Tassinari, Jakob Steidel, Shahar Paltiel, Claudio Fontanesi, Meir Lahav, Yossi Paltiel, Ron Naaman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Enantiospecific crystallization of the three amino acids asparagine (Asn), glutamic acid hydrochloride (Glu·HCl) and threonine (Thr), induced by ferromagnetic (FM) substrates, is reported. The FM substrates were prepared by evaporating nickel capped with a thin gold layer on standard silicon wafers. Magnets were positioned underneath the substrate with either their North (N) or South (S) poles pointing up. Asymmetric induction, controlled by the magnetic substrates, was demonstrated for the crystallization of the pure enantiomers and was then extended for the racemic mixtures of Asn and Glu·HCl. In the case of the solution of the pure enantiomers, the l enantiomer was crystallized preferentially at one pole of the magnet and the d enantiomer at the other. Consequently, the racemates of Asn and Glu·HCl undergo separation under the influence of the magnetic substrate. With Thr, however, despite the enantiospecific interactions of the pure enantiomers with the FM, no separation of the emerging crystals could be achieved with the racemates, although they crystallize as conglomerates, implying differences taking place in the crystallization step. The results reported here are not directly related to the magnetic field, but rather to the aligned spins within the ferromagnets. The findings provide a novel method for resolving enantiomers by crystallization and offer a new perspective for a possible role played by magnetic substrates regarding the origin of chirality in nature.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)5246-5250
Number of pages5
JournalChemical Science
Issue number20
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Royal Society of Chemistry.


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