Publication date: Mar 05, 2021
Hundreds of catalytic methods are developed each year to meet the demand for high-purity chiral compounds. The computational design of enantioselective organocatalysts remains a significant challenge, as catalysts are typically discovered through experimental screening. Recent advances in combining quantum chemical computations and machine learning (ML) hold great potential to propel the next leap forward in asymmetric catalysis. Within the context of quantum chemical machine learning (QML, or atomistic ML), the ML representations used to encode the structure of molecules and evaluate their similarity cannot easily capture the subtle energy differences that govern enantioselectivity. Here, we present a general strategy for improving molecular representations within an atomistic machine learning model to predict the enantiomeric excess of asymmetric propargylation organocatalysts solely from the structure of catalytic cycle intermediates. Mean absolute errors as low as 0.25 kcal mol-1 were achieved in predictions of the activation energy. This strategy opens the door for quickly and accurately predicting higher-selectivity catalysts for any reaction from available structural information.
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