Research Highlights | Published:

Organic chemistry: Tag-team catalysts

Nature volume 456, page 841 (18 December 2008) | Download Citation


David Nicewicz and David MacMillan at Princeton University in New Jersey created a double-headed catalytic system to give an aldehyde molecule an alkyl group in a specific position, and with a specific geometry.

Their technique depends on a pincer movement. A ruthenium-based 'photoredox' catalyst that shifts electrons one at a time when hit with fluorescent light is one prong; an organocatalyst developed to move single electrons is the other.

The light-activated ruthenium catalyst creates an alkyl halide radical; the aldehyde is dealt with by the organocatalyst; and the reactants are brought together with precision so as to give most of the product the desired handedness. The reaction is easy to perform and broadly applicable, say the authors, and will make life easier for those developing new drugs.

About this article

Publication history





    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

    Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing