Dopant Makes Palladium Chiral

Scientists create the first chiral form of palladium.

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The first chiral form of palladium has been created by researchers at the University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel. This development opens the door to chiral composite materials with a variety of applications, they believe. For instance, such chiral metallo-organics may provide advantages in catalysis.

The team, lead by Gadi Rothenberg, professor of heterogeneous catalysis and sustainable chemistry at the University of Amsterdam, changed the structure of palladium by doping it with a cinchona alkaloid. “…The alkaloid molecules are entrapped between the Pd crystallites, resulting in a three-dimensional metallo-organic hybrid structure that is chiral. The resulting chirally modified metal-organic composites catalyze the asymmetric hydrogenation of aceteophenone and isophorone with significant (albeit moderate) enantiomeric excess. Excitingly, the Pd metal retains its chiral aspect even after extraction of the alkaloid modifier,” they report in Nature Chemistry.

The composite material keeps the metal’s usual properties of malleability, conductivity and catalytic activity, and can be pressed into shapes. (Figure 1 shows it formed into a coin-sized disk.) Experiments at Hebrew University of Jerusalem showed that the two chiral forms of palladium provide different catalytic activities for absorption reactions.
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