This article describes a study on the Michael addition reaction of cyclohexanone to nitroolefins catalyzed by the chiral secondary amine (1S,4S)-2-tosyl- 2,5-diazabicyclo[2.2.1]heptane. Reactions were carried out under solvent-free conditions to make them more environmentally friendly. Initially, the observed diastereoand enantioselectivities were moderate to good, but were significantly improved by lowering the reaction temperature. Furthermore, a variety of chiral acids were also tested as co-catalysts in both of their enantiomeric forms, which revealed that (R)-mandelic acid affords excellent results in terms of yield and stereoselectivity. Monitoring the reaction by MS-TOF allowed for the detection of key reaction intermediates, and a reasonable reaction mechanism in which both catalysts are involved is proposed.
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