The Pfeiffer effect is observed when an optically active compound such as an amino acid is introduced to a solution containing a labile racemic metal complex, and an equilibrium shift is obtained. The “perturbation” results in an excess of one enantiomer over the other. The shift is a result of a preferential outer sphere interaction between the introduced chiral species and one enantiomeric form (Λ or ∆) of a labile metal complex. Speculations regarding the mechanism of the Pfeiffer effect have attributed observations to a singular factor such as pH, solvent polarity, or numerous other intermolecular interactions. Through the use of the lanthanide(III) complexes [Tb(DPA)3]3− and [Eu(DPA)3]3− (where DPA = 2,6-pyridinedicarboxylate) and the amino acids l-serine and l-proline; it is becoming clear that the mechanism is not so simply described as per the preliminary findings that are discussed in this study. It appears that the true mechanism is far more complicated than the attribute just a singular factor. This work attempts to shine light on the fact that understanding the behavior of the solvent environment may hypothetically be the key to offering a more detailed description of the mechanism.
Jamie Lunkley, Ngoc Nguyen, Kristina Tuminaro, Dana Margittai, and Gilles Muller. "The Importance of Solvent Effects on the Mechanism of the Pfeiffer Effect" Inorganics (2018). doi:10.3390/inorganics6030087
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