Sunday, November 18, 2012
That Which We Call Rhodium By Any Other Name Would Have Been As Sweet
I introduced my favorite element back here. Known to others since 1804, I met rhodium around 1982 or so. Rhodium drew my attention as the center of a specific type of molecule, then thought to be the closest man-made thing to an enzyme. Rhodium catalysts made unnatural amino acids such as L-DOPA. What was surprising was that it didn't make d-DOPA.
Back in the late 1970's and early 1980's asymmetric catalysis was a hot new topic. The thinking was that we could imitate nature and mimic enzymes. Those were audacious and heady times. I can still smell how sweet it was.