The Benzoin Condensation is a coupling reaction between two aldehydes that allows the preparation of α-hydroxyketones. The first methods were only suitable for the conversion of aromatic aldehydes.
Mechanism of Benzoin Condensation
Addition of the cyanide ion to create a cyanohydrin effects an umpolung of the normal carbonyl charge affinity, and the electrophilic aldehyde carbon becomes nucleophilic after deprotonation: A thiazolium salt may also be used as the catalyst in this reaction (see Stetter Reaction).
A strong base is now able to deprotonate at the former carbonyl C-atom:
A second equivalent of aldehyde reacts with this carbanion; elimination of the catalyst regenerates the carbonyl compound at the end of the reaction:
Highly Enantioselective Benzoin Condensation Reactions Involving a Bifunctional Protic Pentafluorophenyl-Substituted Triazolium Precatalyst
L. Baragwanath, C. A. Rose, K. Zeitler, S. J. Connon, J. Org. Chem., 2009, 74, 9214-9217.