This feature article illustrates progress in asymmetric organocatalysis achieved by using readily available α,α-L-diaryl prolinols from 2009 up to middle 2012. This class of bifunctional organocatalysts has shown the ability to catalyze a variety of reactions such as epoxidation, cyclopropanation, α-sulfenylation of active methines, cross conjugate addition, direct aldol, cycloaddition and desymmetrization reactions. The most striking feature of these promoters is to enable either non-covalent or covalent activation of the reagents, thus distinguishing themselves as a rare example of organic promoters capable of encompassing alternative mechanistic pathways, namely enamine/iminium catalysis and Brønsted acid/base catalysis.
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