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Binol and the bromide counterions form a chiral supramolecular network – shown as teal van der Waals surface – that only fits one of the ammonium cation enantiomers

A recent paper in Nature from Matthew Kitching (Department of Chemistry and member of the BSI) describes the first ever general method for the selective preparation of chiral ammonium ions.

Speaking in a Chemistry World interview Mark Walsh, a recent PhD graduate of the Kitching group said ‘Our discovery was mostly serendipitous. We were exploring methods to separate ammonium salts using molecular recognition and stumbled upon conditions that led to pure enantiomers.’

The Nature paper which was a  #BSIPaperoftheweek in September describes how these nitrogen ions, which are locked into position in a single enantiomeric form, can now be selectively prepared. This opens up a whole new type of enantiomerically pure chiral compounds which have huge potential, not least as candidates for new medicines.   

Links:

Nature paper: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03735-5

Chemistry World interview & Chemistry and Engineering News article