50th Anniversary of the Cahn-Ingold-Prelog Rules

50th Anniversary of the Cahn-Ingold-Prelog Rules

Author: Angewandte Chemie International Edition

Fifty years ago, a classic review was published in Angewandte Chemie: “The Specification of Molecular Chirality” by Robert S. Cahn, Sir Christopher K. Ingold, and Vladimir Prelog [1]. The article was to change the way that chemists think by introducing the term “chirality” into their vernacular.

In his editorial in Angewandte Chemie, Günter Helmchen, University of Heidelberg, Germany, who carried out his Ph.D. with Prelog in the 1960s, recounts how the Cahn-Ingold-Prelog (CIP) rules were formulated. Cahn and Ingold had already published the foundations of the system in 1951. Prelog joined them in 1954 when the three of them attended a conference and happened to meet when they were among the people not joining in at a dance.

The CIP method was published in 1956, and the 1966 review consolidated and extended the rules. In the 50 years that have followed, the CIP system has become central to organic chemistry.


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