DOI: 0908.0658Aug 5, 2009Paper

Homochirality and the need of energy

Raphaël Plasson, Axel Brandenburg


The mechanisms for explaining how a stable asymmetric chemical system can be formed from a symmetric chemical system, in the absence of any asymmetric influence other than statistical fluctuations, have been developed during the last decades, focusing on the non-linear kinetic aspects. Besides the absolute necessity of self-amplification processes, the importance of energetic aspects is often underestimated. Going down to the most fundamental aspects, the distinction between a single object -- that can be intrinsically asymmetric -- and a collection of objects -- whose racemic state is the more stable one -- must be emphasized. A system of strongly interacting objects can be described as one single object retaining its individuality and a single asymmetry; weakly or non-interacting objects keep their own individuality, and are prone to racemize towards the equilibrium state. In the presence of energy fluxes, systems can be maintained in an asymmetric non-equilibrium steady-state. Such dynamical systems can retain their asymmetry for times longer than their racemization time.

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