What causes isomers to exist in some chemical compounds?


I have a fair understanding of the basics of Chirality but my Chemistry textbook doesn’t seem to explain why some chemical compounds form isomers. I guess my question is: What causes Enantiomers (non-superimposable mirror images) to exist? If they are comprised of the same components then what causes those constituents to attach in different ways?

In: Chemistry

Fuck dude I hope someone give you a really thoughtful explanation and has the background to teach us a bit I love this question makes me want to jump back into school

It just depends on the reaction that takes places to give rise to that compound! Some reactions form racemic mixtures, which means they consist of different isomers, because the mechanism of the action is non-specific in terms of chirality, whereas other reactions’ mechanisms are more specific and cause the path of attack of one atom’s electrons to the other’s to be very particular so only one kind of isomer can form from the reaction.

I’ve done some wider reading and think I have a better understanding of the answer. Incase someone else comes across this post looking for an answer:

Standard chemical synthesis generally produces a racemic mixture (that is both isomers are present) while natural products are usually of one form only, single enantiomers. Chemists have two options when isolating the desired isomer. 1) Firstly synthesise a racemic mixture of the molecule and then separating the two enantiomers with a chemical process known as ‘resolution’ (using an enzyme as a catalyst to stimulate the reaction of a chiral molecule but not it’s enantiomer) or; 2) they can control the conditions with chiral inorganic catalysts so that only one enantiomer is formed. This process is known as ‘asymmetric sythesis’ and was developed by 2001 Nobel Prize chemists William Knowles, Ryoji Noyori and Barry Sharpless.