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Science of Synthesis: Asymmetric Organocatalysis

Volume 1: Lewis Base and Acid Catalysts (List); Volume 2: Brønstedt Base and Acid Catalysts and Additional Topics (Maruoka)

Benjamin List, Keiji Maruoka

Softcover, 1928 Pages
First Edition, 2012
ISBN: 978-3131705914


"Asymmetric Organocatalysis" is the first reference work giving an overview of this dynamic, young field that is rapidly gaining significance for economical and environmentally friendly organic synthesis. It comprehensively covers all the catalysts and reactions within the four distinct activation modes: Bronsted base catalysis, Bronsted acid catalysis, Lewis base catalysis and Lewis acid catalysis. Typical or general experimental procedures as well as mechanistic, technical and theoretical aspects are included, allowing the reader to clearly see how simple, clean and efficient this chemistry is.

Editorial Review

Even before the year 1900, Emil Knoevenagel had discovered that amines catalyze the condensation of ketoesters with carbonyl compounds. Asymmetric organocatalysis, such as in the Hajos-Parrish-Eder-Sauer-Wiechert reaction, was already known in the 1970s, but substantial numbers of feasible organocatalyzed reactions and new mechanisms were not discovered until the past decade. Researchers have dedicated many years of effort to optimizing transition metal-catalyzed reactions, but there is an ever clearer need for alternatives that are less costly, less damaging to the environment, and that employ less toxic reagents. In the meantime, the growing interest in green methods has led numerous research groups to devote their efforts to organocatalysis. Several catalysts have been (re)discovered (in addition to the well-known proline-based catalysts, there are for example also N-heterocyclic carbenes as well as phosphoric acid and urea derivatives), but the scope of applicability of organocatalysts has also been broadened. The substantial surge in development during the present century has led to hundreds of reactions that are equivalent or superior to conventional synthesis methods. Organocatalysts have already expedited many new industrial chemical processes, but it takes time to rework existing processes.

Anyone who has missed the evolution of these options needs to invest a great deal of time pouring through thousands of publications to gain an overview. For companies and research institutions with employees working on various synthesis projects, the book "Science of Synthesis: Asymmetric Organocatalysis" serves as a worthwhile alternative or supplement to a study of the primary literature. The two books on the topics of "Lewis Base and Acid Catalysts" and "Brønstedt Base and Acid Catalysts" have been compiled by acknowledged experts, and include numerous, thematically well-structured chapters that demonstrate the enormous potential of organocatalysis. Each chapter describes a different branch of the subject in a readable and accurate manner. The essential value of these works is apparent from the myriad reactions and many mechanisms showcased in the numerous examples covered. An especially rewarding feature is the large number of concrete procedures provided, from which the reader can easily proceed to conducting initial experiments.

Details such as the uniform design of the chapters and the abbreviations index at the end of the books demonstrate the great care taken by the publisher in the production of these works. All chapters in both volumes thus function together as a unified whole composed of contributions of consistently high quality. The sophisticated indices with keywords and author names also facilitate searches for specific information. For example, a search on the word "aldehydes" in the first volume yields about 125 entries with additional terms filling over five index pages. This offers the reader a summary of what to expect in the corresponding chapter. Unfortunately, there is no comprehensive index that covers both volumes, so that at times both individual indices must be consulted. For the keyword "aldehydes", the second volume index shows approximately 75 entries over 3 pages. However, the disadvantage of having separate indices pales in comparison to the time and effort it would take to gather this information from the primary literature, especially not having the help of experts to pre-filter the information. If anything, consultation of this work will save the reader time and frustration by avoiding useless experiments.

Based on its scope of coverage, and the fair pricing by the publisher, "Science of Synthesis: Asymmetric Organocatalysis" comes highly recommended for both small and large companies and research institutions, while research groups that rely on a wide array of reaction types would also do well to acquire these books.


Lewis Base and Acid Catalysts

Brønstedt Base and Acid Catalysts and Additional Topics