Orthogonal tandem catalysis


  • A Corrigendum to this article was published on 23 June 2015


Tandem catalysis is a growing field that is beginning to yield important scientific and technological advances toward new and more efficient catalytic processes. 'One-pot' tandem reactions, where multiple catalysts and reagents, combined in a single reaction vessel undergo a sequence of precisely staged catalytic steps, are highly attractive from the standpoint of reducing both waste and time. Orthogonal tandem catalysis is a subset of one-pot reactions in which more than one catalyst is used to promote two or more mechanistically distinct reaction steps. This Perspective summarizes and analyses some of the recent developments and successes in orthogonal tandem catalysis, with particular focus on recent strategies to address catalyst incompatibility. We also highlight the concept of thermodynamic leveraging by coupling multiple catalyst cycles to effect challenging transformations not observed in single-step processes, and to encourage application of this technique to energetically unfavourable or demanding reactions.

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Figure 1: Examples of orthogonal tandem catalytic systems.
Figure 2: Physical separation of catalysts can be essential.
Figure 3: Scenario for tandem catalytic ether hydrogenolysis via retro-hydroalkoxylation.

Change history

  • 01 June 2015

    In the version of this Perspective originally published, Figure 2a should have depicted the conversion of CO2 to formic acid and on to a formate ester. This error has now been corrected in all online versions.

  • 23 June 2015

    Nature Chemistry 7, 477–482 (2015); published online 20 May 2015; corrected after print 1 June 2015. In the version of this Perspective originally published, Figure 2a should have depicted the conversion of CO2 to formic acid and on to a formate ester. The corrected reaction pathway is shown below. This error has now been corrected in all online versions.


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This work was supported by the US Department of Energy under contract DE-AC0206CH11357 to the EFRC Institute for Atom-Efficient Chemical Transformations, and by NSF grant CHE-1213,235 on basic f-element chemistry which supported T.L.L. We thank M. Delferro and R. S. Assary for comments and suggestions.

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Correspondence to Tobin J. Marks.

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Lohr, T., Marks, T. Orthogonal tandem catalysis. Nature Chem 7, 477–482 (2015) doi:10.1038/nchem.2262

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