Professor Ooi and his group have developed a method of synthesising complex molecules with specific chiralities. They start with an oxindole and a secondary alkyl bromide, as racemic mixtures (1:1 mixtures of enantiomers). When the two molecules react together they produce a molecule with two stereocentres – and four possible stereoisomers.
They have developed a catalyst that is capable of directing the reaction at both stereocentres simultaneously, selecting for just one stereoisomer out of the possible four.
"We believe that this research provides an efficient way to access complex chiral molecules and would contribute to the discovery of new functional organic molecules, such as pharmaceuticals," he says.
From the art desk
“Our catalyst could simultaneously control the two stereo-determining events, that is, it ‘wears two hats’” says Professor Ooi, “We have reflected this in the cover image, in which the catalyst is personified as a character who wears two hats and carries out two jobs simultaneously.”
The concept was sketched by Yukino Furukawa, who is also an author on the paper, and the final image was made by a graphic design company. You can see Yukino’s sketch alongside the final image in the gallery below.
Read the article: Kohsuke Ohmatsu et al, Chem. Commun., 2017, 53, 13113–13116, DOI: 10.1039/ C7CC07122A
This image appears on the front cover of Chemical Communications, 2017, Issue 98.