Science, Tech, Math › Science Chiral Center Definition in Chemistry Chiral Center in Stereochemistry Share Flipboard Email Print This is an example of chirality of amino acids, using hands to illustrate how the molecules are mirror images of each other. NASA Science Chemistry Chemical Laws Basics Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated July 03, 2019 Chiral Center Definition A chiral center is defined as an atom in a molecule that is bonded to four different chemical species, allowing for optical isomerism. It is a stereocenter that holds a set of atoms (ligands) in space such that the structure may not be superimposed on its mirror immage. Chiral Center Examples The central carbon in serine is a chiral carbon. The amino group and hydrogen can rotate about the carbon. While chiral centers in organic chemistry tend to be carbon atoms, other common atoms include phosphorus, nitrogen, and sulfur. Metal atoms may also serve as chiral centers. Sources Mislow, Kurt; Siegel, Jay (1984). "Stereoisomerism and local chirality". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 106 (11): 3319. doi:10.1021/ja00323a043Solomons, T. W. Graham; Fryhle, Craig (2004). Organic Chemistry (8th ed.). John Wiley & Sons.