We highlight recent developments of catalytic transfer hydrogenation of ketones promoted by transition metals, while placing it within its historical context. Since optically active secondary alcohols are important building blocks in fine chemicals synthesis, the focus of this review is devoted to chiral catalyst types which are capable of inducing high stereoselectivities. Ruthenium complexes still represent the largest part of the catalysts, but other metals (e.g. Fe) are rapidly penetrating this field. While homogeneous transfer hydrogenation catalysts in some cases approach enzymatic performance, the interest in heterogeneous catalysts is constantly growing because of their reusability. Despite excellent activity, selectivity and compatibility of metal complexes with a variety of functional groups, no universal catalysts exist. Development of future catalyst systems is directed towards reaching as high as possible activity with low catalyst loadings, using “greener” conditions, and being able to operate under mild conditions and in a highly selective manner for a broad range of substrates.
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- Metal-Catalysed Transfer Hydrogenation of Ketones
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