Asymmetric hydrogenation of alkenes is one of the most widely used methods for the preparation of single enantiomer compounds, especially in the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries. For more than four decades, precious metal complexes containing rhodium, iridium, and ruthenium have been predominantly used as catalysts. Here, we report rapid evaluation of libraries of chiral phosphine ligands with a set of simple cobalt precursors. From these studies, base metal precatalysts have been discovered for the hydrogenation of functionalized and unfunctionalized olefins with high enantiomeric excesses, demonstrating the potential utility of more earth-abundant metals in asymmetric hydrogenation.
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