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This osmium-based catalyst is rendered nontoxic by polymer incarceration

By Tetsuo Satoh |

Professor Shu Kobayashi and his research group at The School of Science, University of Tokyo (Japan; www.chem.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp/users/synorg/index_E.html) have developed an osmium-based catalyst for performing asymmetric syntheses of drug precursors. While showing the same catalytic performance of its predecessor — a microencapsulated osmium oxide in a polymer — the new catalyst system is not dissolved by solvents, which makes it possible to recover the catalyst for reuse. The new, so-called polymer-incarcerated osmium (PIOS) system is nontoxic, nonvolatile and stable for months in air. The catalyst is made by mixing OsO4 in a styrene-based polymer solution for 72 h. Hexane is then added, which causes the OsO4 to become microencapsulated by the polymer. After removing the solvent, the solids are heated to 110°C, which crosslinks the polymer into a matrix in which the OsO4 is bound. The catalyst enables a one-step reaction process instead of the three or four steps required by conventional catalyst technologies. For example, the chemists demonstrated that the PIOS system catalyzes the asymmetric dihydroxylation of alkenes into the corresponding diols with high yields and high enantioselectivities. They also prepared 1-mol…
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