In part because of their straightforward and modular syntheses from readily available enantiopure starting materials, and their capacity to bind a wide variety of transition metals, chiral, chelating nitrogen-donor ligands have played a prominent role in asymmetric catalysis. A large number of highly enantioselective transformations rely upon these ligands whose reported classes are built around amine, imine, pyrrole, pyrrolidine, oxazoline and oxazolidine donor groups, among others. In this Perspective, we examine a selection of transformative developments in asymmetric catalysis by metal complexes of bi- and polydentate members of this ligand family. We describe approaches to ligand design and synthesis, structure and bonding in coordination complexes, and limitations and future challenges.
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