Indexed on: 16 Jul '15Published on: 16 Jul '15Published in: Journal of Organic Chemistry
An efficient organocatalyst for iminium-ion based asymmetric Diels-Alder (DA) reactions has been rationally designed. The most influential structure-activity relationships were determined experimentally, while DFT calculations and NMR studies provided further mechanistic insight. This knowledge guided an in silico screening of 62 different catalysts using an ONIOM(B3LYP/6-31G*:AM1) transition-state modeling, which showed good correlation between theory and experiment. The top-scored compound was easily synthesized from levoglucosenone, a biomass-derived chiral enone, and evaluated in the DA reaction between (E)-cinnamaldehyde and cyclopentadiene. In line with the computational finding, excellent results (up to 97% ee) were obtained. In addition, the catalyst could be easily recovered and reused with no loss in its catalytic activity.