Chiral ligands are the toolbox for asymmetric synthesis to access 3D molecular world. Enabling efficient asymmetric reaction in water is a big challenge. As moisture/air stable and strong binding moieties, amines, compared to imine and phosphine ligands, are ideal candidates to accommodate asymmetric transformations in water. Known amine ligands like Proline analogues and Cinchona alkaloids showed excellent asymmetric induction. Sparteine, an alkaloid studied originated in 1968, had never been considered as a privileged catalyst due to its structure defection which led to poor reaction compatibility and unsatisfactory stereoselectivity. Here, we report the design of a chiral diamine catalyst untethering one of the sparteine rings. The diamine catalyst was easily accessed in two steps on 100 gram-scale. This chiral ligand was proved to be efficient for addition reactions in water providing products with excellent yields and enantiomeric ratios. This pluripotent catalyst has also shown good reactivity/enantioselectivity under organocatalysis, Cu and Pd-catalysed conditions. We anticipate that the ligand would allow further development of other catalysts for important yet challenging green stereoselective transformations.
Untethering sparteine: 1,3-diamine ligand for asymmetric synthesis in water