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Enantioselective Synthesis

When a new stereo centre is created two stereo isomers(enantiomers) may be formed. If one of the enantiomer is formed in significantly higher proportions theprocess is termed enantioselective synthesis.When a stereo centre is already present and a new one is created, there are two stereo isomers (diastereomers) possible. If one of them is formed in significantly greater proportions the process is termed diastereoselective synthesis. In some reactions there is a possibility of formation of several stereo isomers, in such cases the preferential formation of one over the other is diastereoselectivity.

Epoxidation of allyl alcohols (Sharpless epoxidation)

Substrate: Allyl alcohol.

sharpless epoxidation

It is believed that oxygen is transferred from hydroperoxide to the alkene in a complex in which the configuration of the ester group determines whether oxygen is delivered from above or below the plane of the alkene.

The catalyst binds the hydroperoxide, allylic alcohol group, and the asymmetric tartrate ligand via oxygen atoms in the transition state.


Hydrobortion and oxidation is a well known method of preparing alcohols from alkenes. The alcohol formed is an anti-markonikov product. Conditions: Hydroboration: BH3 / THF Oxidation: H2O2 / NaOH If the alcohol formed has a new stereo centre the product is a racemic mixture.  Hydroboration of alkenes by using chiral alkyl boranes followed by oxidation leads to asymmetric synthesis of secondary alcohols. Two such alkyl boranes are:

alkyl boranes

These reagents can be readily prepared by reaction of borane with (+) or (-)-α-pinene under appropriate conditions. Many more derivatives of the reagent have been used leading to better results.

Enantioselectivity: Michael addition- Phase transfer catalysts
Reduction with chiral hydride donors
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