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What Does Racemic Mean?

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The word "racemic" is an adjective that refers to any chemical compound that possesses an equal amount of levorotatory and dextrorotatory forms. This results in the plane of the incident polarized light not being able to rotate. A racemic compound contains equal quantities of right handed and left handed enantiomers belonging to a chiral molecule. Pasteur found the first known racemic compound "racemic acid". It was a mixture which contained two enantiomeric isomers belonging to tartaric acid.

A racemic substance is considered to be optically inactive. It does not allow plane-polarised light to rotate. Pharmaceuticals generally are available either as pure enantiomers or as racemic compounds. Regulating laws require that the pharmacological effects of both enantiomers should be tested. A racemic substance crystallizes in three different ways namely Pseudoracemate, Conglomerate and Racemic compound forms.

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