New progress has been achieved in the study of emulsion chiral catalysis by Prof. Can Li and Assoc. Prof. Gong Liu of DICP. In an emulsion system using water as the solvent, the series reaction of α- ketonic acid with aldehyde has been realized for the first time with high activity and enantio-selectivity, and their results have been published as a research communication in the recently appearing journal of Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. （Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., DOI: 10.1002/anie.201206438）.
The research team of Prof. Can Li has proposed the concept of “emulsion catalysis”, and they have put great effort to apply this concept in various catalytic reactions. Starting with natural amino acids, they have designed and synthesized a series of amphiphilic organic catalysts of small molecules having new structures, and realized the series reaction of idol- lactonization- isomerization with high activity and high enantio-selectivity. Consequently, frameworks of isotetronic acids could be constructed in a single step with high stereo-selectivity. By means of fluorescence imaging experiments, it was found that in the reaction system, the amphiphilic catalyst molecules distributed mainly on the surface of emulsion drops, so that the reaction could be carried out at water-oil boundaries.