Posts Tagged ‘catalysis’
The Sharpless epoxidation of an allylic alcohol had a big impact on synthetic chemistry when it was introduced in the 1980s, and led the way for the discovery (design?) of many new asymmetric catalytic systems. Each achieves its chiral magic by control of the geometry at the transition state for the reaction, and the stabilizations (or destabilizations) that occur at that geometry. These in turn can originate from factors such as stereoelectronic control or simply by the overall sum of many small attractions and repulsions we call dispersion interactions. Here I take an initial look at these for the binuclear transition state shown schematically below.
Sharpless epoxidation converts a prochiral allylic alcohol into the corresponding chiral epoxide with > 90% enantiomeric excess,. Here is the first step in trying to explain how this magic is achieved.
- J.M. Klunder, S.Y. Ko, and K.B. Sharpless, "Asymmetric epoxidation of allyl alcohol: efficient routes to homochiral .beta.-adrenergic blocking agents", The Journal of Organic Chemistry, vol. 51, pp. 3710-3712, 1986. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jo00369a032
- R.M. Hanson, and K.B. Sharpless, "Procedure for the catalytic asymmetric epoxidation of allylic alcohols in the presence of molecular sieves", The Journal of Organic Chemistry, vol. 51, pp. 1922-1925, 1986. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jo00360a058
Astronomers who discover an asteroid get to name it, mathematicians have theorems named after them. Synthetic chemists get to name molecules (Hector’s base and Meldrum’s acid spring to mind) and reactions between them. What do computational chemists get to name? Transition states! One of the most famous of recent years is the Houk-List.
Reactions in cavities can adopt quite different characteristics from those in solvents. Thus first example of the catalysis of the Diels-Alder reaction inside an organic scaffold was reported by Endo, Koike, Sawaki, Hayashida, Masuda, and Aoyama, where the reaction shown below is speeded up very greatly in the presence of a crystalline lattice of the anthracene derivative shown below.
- K. Endo, T. Koike, T. Sawaki, O. Hayashida, H. Masuda, and Y. Aoyama, "Catalysis by Organic Solids. Stereoselective Diels−Alder Reactions Promoted by Microporous Molecular Crystals Having an Extensive Hydrogen-Bonded Network", Journal of the American Chemical Society, vol. 119, pp. 4117-4122, 1997. http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ja964198s
Lactide is a small molecule made from lactic acid, which is itself available in large quantities by harvesting plants rather than drilling for oil. Lactide can be turned into polymers with remarkable properties, which in turn degrade down easily back to lactic acid. A perfect bio-renewable material!