Organotextile Catalysis

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Science  13 Sep 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6151, pp. 1225-1229
DOI: 10.1126/science.1242196

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Catalytic Parachute

Small organic molecules have emerged as catalysts as versatile as transition metal complexes. However, industrial application of such organocatalysts has been hampered by technical challenges. Now Lee et al. (p. 1225) have succeeded in tethering a diverse set of high-performance organocatalysts to nylon fabric through ultraviolet photochemistry, making them easy to isolate and reuse.


Throughout human history, textiles have been integral to daily life, but their exploration in catalysis has been rare. Herein, we show a facile and permanent immobilization of organocatalysts on the textile nylon using ultraviolet light. The catalyst and the textile material require no chemical modification for the immobilization. All of the prepared textile-immobilized organocatalysts (a Lewis basic, a Brønsted acidic, and a chiral organocatalyst) display excellent stability, activity, and recyclability for various organic transformations. Very good enantioselectivity (>95:5 enantiomeric ratio) can be maintained for more than 250 cycles of asymmetric catalysis. Practical and straightforward applications of textile organocatalysis may be beneficial for various fields by offering inexpensive and accessible functionalized catalytic materials.

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