Natural not always best: Novel N-aryl urea and thiourea derivatives of dihydrocinchona alkaloids serve as efficient catalysts for the asymmetric addition of dimethyl malonate to a range of nitroalkenes. Catalytic activity and selectivity depend strongly on the relative configuration at C8/C9. Catalysts with “non-natural” inverted configuration at C9 display excellent activity and enantioselectivity at loadings as low as 0.5 mol %.
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