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Cellulose Nanocrystals as Chiral Inducers: Enantioselective Catalysis and Transmission Electron Microscopy 3D Characterization

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posted on 20.05.2015, 00:00 by Madhu Kaushik, Kaustuv Basu, Charles Benoit, Ciprian M. Cirtiu, Hojatollah Vali, Audrey Moores
Cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs), derived from cellulose, provide us with an opportunity to devise more sustainable solutions to current technological challenges. Enantioselective catalysis, especially heterogeneous, is the preferred method for the synthesis of pure chiral molecules in the fine chemical industries. Cellulose has been long sought as a chiral inducer in enantioselective catalysis. We report herein an unprecedentedly high enantiomeric excess (ee) for Pd patches deposited onto CNCs used as catalysts for the hydrogenation of prochiral ketones in water at room temperature and 4 bar H2. Our system, where CNCs acted as support and sole chiral source, achieved an ee of 65% with 100% conversions. Cryo-electron microscopy, high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, and tomography were used for the first time to study the 3D structure of a metal functionalized CNC hybrid. It established the presence of sub-nanometer-thick Pd patches at the surface of CNCs and provided insight into the chiral induction mechanism.