Polymer Science Faculty Research

Chiral Photochemistry Within Zeolites

Abraham Joy, The University of Akron


Chiral induction of chemical reactions continues to be one of the main concerns of chemists. While basic rules of chiral induction of thermal reactions have been reasonably established, the same is not true of photochemical reactions. Short excited state lifetime and low activation energies for reactions in the excited state(s) leave very little room for manipulating the diastereomeric transition states. Yet impressive chiral induction of photochemical reactions in the solid state has been achieved. On the other hand, chiral induction of photoreactions of organic molecules in solution continues to be inefficient at ambient conditions. We are exploring the possibility of employing zeolites as a media for achieving chiral induction during photoreactions. The motivating force for such an attempt is the fact that chiral chemistry in the solid state is not completely general due to the fact that not all molecules crystallize. To achieve chiral induction one needs a chiral perturber. Zeolites are not chiral and therefore the perturber is added to the medium. Thus the medium for a photoreaction is a chirally modified zeolite. Of the several reactions investigated, results on photoelectrocylization of tropolone alkyl ethers are discussed at length. The confined space offered by the zeolite supercage forces a reactant and the chiral inductor to interact intimately to yield enantiomerically enriched product. Due to the transitory nature of the reaction cavity in solution such close interactions are less likely in isotropic solvent media. The examples discussed herein show negligible chiral induction in solution, whereas in a zeolite one obtains induction as high as 90 %.