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Asymmetric Counteranion-Directed Catalysis


  • Technical assistance by Simone Marcus, Jutta Rosentreter, Michael Stadler, and Dr. Jung Woon Yang is gratefully acknowledged. We thank the Max-Planck Institut, Degussa, Lanxess, and Wacker for support of our work, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeneinschaft for the priority program “Organocatalysis” (SPP 1179), and Novartis for a Young Investigator Award.


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Exceedingly high enantioselectivity in a catalytic reaction can be realized even when the chirality resides only in the counteranion of the catalyst. A salt (1) composed of an achiral ammonium cation and a chiral phosphate counteranion catalyzes asymmetric transfer hydrogenations of aromatic and aliphatic α,β-unsaturated aldehydes with a Hantzsch ester in excellent enantioselectivities (see scheme).

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