Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, USA, have designed a novel surfactant that carries the covalently bonded organocatalyst proline (pictured). This water-soluble species can spontaneously form nanomicelles and then catalyze aldol reactions on both water-soluble and water-insoluble substrates in water and at room temperature. It thus avoids the need for organic solvents in this reaction scheme.
Recycling the catalyst is trivial as it remains in the aqueous phase in the reaction vessel.
- Organocatalysis in Water at Room Temperature with In-Flask Catalyst Recycling
B. H. Lipshutz, S. Ghorai,
Org. Lett. 2011.