In chemistry, the nitro group (O-N=O) has a formidable reputation. The high reactivity that makes some nitro-bearing molecules potent explosives—think nitroglycerin or trinitrotoluene (TNT)—also enables NO2 to be extremely versatile in organic synthesis. Chemists can transform nitro groups into numerous other functionalities, such as biologically important amines or carbonyl compounds, providing a constant demand for new, efficient reactions involving these compounds.
Now, researchers led by Mikiko Sodeoka from the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute in Wako have developed an innovative way to connect organic molecules known as nitroalkenes and α-ketoesters together with precisely controlled geometries1. Because this synthesis uses an ‘environmentally friendly’ catalytic system, it can help create a broad range of molecules, including therapeutic natural products, under mild conditions.
Typically, reactions between nitroalkenes and α-ketoesters require hazardous liquids, generous quantities of catalysts, and very low temperatures to be successful. Instead, Sodeoka and her team were able to complete this chemical transformation at room temperature, with a non-toxic propanol solvent, by using small amounts of a nickel acetate catalyst —an advance with significant cost-saving and environmental-hazard reducing potential.
According to Yoshitaka Hamashima, a co-author of the paper, this discovery originated in the team’s previous finding that certain palladium complexes are stable and active catalysts, even in water2. After several trials, the researchers determined that nickel catalysts, which share similar properties to palladium materials, allowed the α-ketoesters to add to nitroalkenes with high yields and purity; over 90% of the final product corresponded to a specific stereoisomer, a molecule with a hard-to-achieve, geometrically distinct structure.
Hamashima explains that the nickel complexes are particularly effective because they recognize specific carbon atoms on the α-ketoesters and chemically activate them, generating products with precise frameworks. Furthermore, nickel has the right properties to maintain a delicate catalytic balance. “Nickel has a reasonable—not too strong, but not too weak—affinity towards nitro groups,” says Hamashima. “This affinity enabled the facile dissociation of the product from the catalyst, allowing high catalytic turnover.”
The high selectivity of this process, when combined with the mild reaction conditions, allowed the researchers to perform similar reactions on a broad range of molecules—including a highly efficient synthesis of the natural product kainic acid analog, a chemical that can bind to glutamate receptors within neuronal cells.
“Such selective activations are key to the success of our reaction,” says Hamashima. “Otherwise, undesired side reactions would occur when compounds with various functional groups are used as substrates.”
The corresponding author for this highlight is based at the Synthetic Organic Chemistry Laboratory, RIKEN Advanced Science Institute
Journal information1. Nakamura, A., Lectard, S., Hashizume, D., Hamashima, Y. & Sodeoka, M. Diastereo- and enantioselective conjugate addition of α-ketoesters to nitroalkenes catalyzed by a chiral Ni(OAc)2 complex under mild conditions. Journal of the American Chemical Society 132, 4036–4037 (2010)
2. Sodeoka, M. & Hamashima, Y. Chiral Pd aqua complex-catalyzed asymmetric C–C bond-forming reactions: a Brønsted acid–base cooperative system. Chemical Communications 5787–5798 (2009).
gro-pr | Research asia research news
Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'
16.03.2018 | Emory Health Sciences
Scientists map the portal to the cell's nucleus
16.03.2018 | Rockefeller University
Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...
On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...
The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...
At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.
When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...
At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.
Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...
16.03.2018 | Event News
13.03.2018 | Event News
08.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences
16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
16.03.2018 | Life Sciences