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In the Golden Age of Organocatalysis


  • The illustration on the frontispiece is taken from the codex The Book of Chess, Dice, and Board Games, completed around 1280 by Alfonso X of Castille. Alfonso's heritage represents above all a great cultural bridge between the Christian West and the Muslim East. In a similar way, organocatalysis represents a link between two major forms of catalysis: metal-complex-mediated and enzymatic catalysis, and thus between synthetic and bioorganic chemistry.


The term “organocatalysis” describes the acceleration of chemical reactions through the addition of a substoichiometric quantity of an organic compound. The interest in this field has increased spectacularly in the last few years as result of both the novelty of the concept and, more importantly, the fact that the efficiency and selectivity of many organocatalytic reactions meet the standards of established organic reactions. Organocatalytic reactions are becoming powerful tools in the construction of complex molecular skeletons. The diverse examples show that in recent years organocatalysis has developed within organic chemistry into its own subdiscipline, whose “Golden Age” has already dawned.