In this work we report our endeavors toward the development of an asymmetric synthesis of a 3,3-disubstituted isoindolinone, dimethyl 2-(1-methyl-3-oxoisoindolin-1-yl)malonate, via asymmetric cascade reaction of 2-acetylbenzonitrile with dimethylmalonate and the determination of its absolute configuration (AC) by vibrational circular dichroism (VCD). Bifunctional ammonium salts, derived from trans-1,2-cyclohexanediamine in combination with inorganic bases under phase transfer conditions, were the most effective catalytic systems, leading to the target in high yields and moderate enantioselectivity. An efficient process of heterochiral crystallization allowed the increase of the enantiopurity up to 96% ee and in an acceptable overall yield. An important aim of the present work is the comparison of different VCD methodologies for AC determination of the target compound.
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