There is a continuous interest to apply homogeneous catalysis to asymmetric synthesis, which is the elective method for drugs production in pharmaceutical industry. Asymmetric catalysis provides the cheapest synthetic route to optically active compounds with minimal number of steps and reduced use of expensive chiral substrates. Replacing conventional methods with those involving asymmetric catalysis is then mandatory to reduce considerably energy/materials costs and the environmental impact of chemical manufacturing. The improvement of either efficiency and selectivity of traditional molecular chiral catalysts is a time consuming and expensive procedure that may be bypassed by the development of the innovative "modular catalysis" on which the MODUCAT proposal is concerning. The accomplishment of MODUCAT milestones will boost the application of asymmetric catalysts to several industrial processes. The main objectives of the project are: (1) to develop the modular assemblage of a chiral catalyst consisting of two independent units, separately responsible for activity and enantioselectivity. Such units, assembled together by Coulombic and/or hydrophobic forces, should form an innovative catalyst conjugating activity with enantioselectivity; (2) to validate the MODUCAT ideas in model catalytic asymmetric processes carried out in aqueous media. While the few known examples of "modular catalysts" find application in non-polar media, we propose to use Ag/Au NPs functionalized with SAMs of optically active charged molecules to bring about the modular approach in polar solvents. While the Fellow's background in catalysis, organometallic/colloidal chemistry, particularly dealing with charged NPs, is a big asset that guarantees high chance to reach the goals of the project, his training in preparation of water soluble catalysts and their application to aqueous systems, where the Host has a recognized experience, is a fundamental prerequisite for the success of the project.
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