Recent advances in rhodium-catalysed conjugate addition reactions

  • Stephen Penrose

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The research presented herein is concerned with the exploration of rhodium-catalysed addition reactions with organoboranes encompassing the 1,4-addition enolate protonation to benzyl acrylate esters, and the synthesis of chiral organoboranes for use in the synthesis of natural products Hermitamides A and B. Chapter 1 introduces the area of rhodium-catalysed conjugate addition as a tool for asymmetric synthesis. An extensive discussion of this methodology is included and recent advances in the area will be highlighted. In addition to this some recently published alternatives to organoboranes are outlined and their use in rhodium-catalysed chemistry documented. Chapter 2 discusses the tandem process of rhodium-catalysed conjugate addition enolate protonation, a recently observed asymmetric development. By using a novel route to benzyl acrylic esters the synthesis of α,α′-dibenzyl esters is achieved in excellent yields and selectivity. This study highlights the fact that when dealing with 1,1-disubstituted activated alkenes it is more difficult to produce enantioselective results as the chirality is determined in the protonation step and not during insertion. Some insights into the mechanism are proposed based on the outcomes observed. Chapter 3 describes the total synthesis of Lyngbic Acid and related structures Hermitamides A and B. Synthesis of these natural products are achieved by synthesis of an enantiopure organoborane species and its subsequent coupling via rhodium catalysis. Some interesting insights into the addition of alkenyl organoborane species to unsubstituted 1,1-activated alkenes are detailed. Chapter 4 describes the synthesis and characterisation for the compounds discussed in the previous chapters.
Date of Award13 Jun 2008
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorChristopher Frost (Supervisor)


  • boronic acids
  • conjugate addition
  • rhodium

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