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J Org Chem. 2006 Mar 17;71(6):2411-6.

Do the terms "% ee" and "% de" make sense as expressions of stereoisomer composition or stereoselectivity?

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Org Chem. 2008 Aug 15;73(16):6470.
  • J Org Chem. 2008 Aug 1;73(15):6052.


Enantiomeric excess (ee) was originally defined as a term to describe enantiomeric composition and was equated with optical purity. More recently, ee and its cousin de (diastereomeric excess) have been used (inappropriately) to quantitate stereoselectivity. The quantity ee has been used in equations describing processes such as kinetic resolutions, but these equations are unnecessarily complex because it is enantiomer ratio, not enantiomeric excess, that directly reflects relative rates. A historical summary of the development of ee as an expression of enantiomer composition and enantioselectivity is presented, along with new equations and figures defining and illustrating the stereoselectivity factor, s, kinetic resolutions versus % conversion, and linear correlations of enantiomer composition of catalysts and products. New figures illustrating nonlinear effects versus enaniomer composition are presented, and Kagan's index of amplification for positive nonlinear effects is discussed and illustrated. A case is made for the discontinuance of ee and de as descriptors of stereoisomer composition and stereoselectivity.

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