The field of homogeneous catalysis has been dominated by transition-metal catalysis because of the versatility of these species. Organocatalysis enjoyed a renaissance in the 1990s, and has certain advantages compared to transition-metal catalysts, such as air and moisture tolerance. However, both varieties of catalyst are not always efficient enough for modern manufacturing processes.
In his Editorial in Angewandte Chemie, Qi-Lin Zhou from Nankai University, Tianjin, China, outlines some of the growth areas for homogeneous catalysis. These areas include the development of transition-metal catalysts for processes such as biomass conversion, and the use of nonprecious and biocompatible metals such as iron. Mixtures of different organocatalysts could be used in multicomponent reactions, and the combination of transition-metal catalysis and organocatalysis is also potentially powerful.
According to Professor Zhou, the role of main-group metals in catalysis should also be explored. These are just a few examples of how the field of homogeneous catalysis can evolve towards efficient, economical, and sustainable reactions.
- Transition-Metal Catalysis and Organocatalysis: Where Can Progress Be Expected?,
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015.