The weak Lewis acid silicon tetrachloride can be activated by catalytic amounts of the chiral bisphosphoramide (R,R)-3 to form a highly reactive, chiral trichlorosilyl cation which is an extremely effective promoter of aldol addition reactions between aldehydes and silyl ketene acetals. The tert-butyldimethylsilyl ketene acetal of methyl acetate adds nearly instantaneously to aromatic and olefinic aldehydes as well as aliphatic aldehydes (albeit more slowly) with excellent enantioselectivity. The homologous tert-butyldimethylsilyl ketene acetal of tert-butyl propanoate adds with nearly exclusive anti diastereoselectivity to a similar range of aldehydes also with excellent enantioselectivity. The origin of the slower reaction rate with aliphatic aldehydes is revealed to be the formation of chlorosilyl ether adducts.
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