We aim to establish a multidisciplinary research program inspired by nature s ability to selectively and specifically control the formation of complex materials, in order to develop new catalytic reactions, generate new materials and delineate new synthetic strategies. The performance of enzymes - complex catalysts perfected though millions years of evolution - offer ideals of selectivity and specificity that synthetic chemistry can aspire to. This proposal aims to establish a multidisciplinary approach to develop new practical and predictable catalytic methods based upon and inspired by natural catalysts. We aim to challenge preconceptions about the field of organic synthesis to focus on the development of asymmetric electrocyclization processes, an entire class of reactions for which there is no general solution. We have delineated an ion-pairing approach to the only catalytic asymmetric thermal 6À electrocyclic process and we aim to build on the insight provided by this result to develop a general approach to the control of electrocyclic processes. We also aim to investigate the development of unnatural folded materials that plagiarize some of the features of enzymes - such as positive cooperativity between non-covalent interactions to generate more efficient asymmetric catalysts. This multidisciplinary approach focuses on the design and synthesis of new folding backbones, investigation of their folding propensities and the evolution of catalytic function. This research program will lead to the development and understanding of new tools essential for the assembly of complex molecules with biological, material or structural value.
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