French explained that, like our hands, many chemical compounds have mirror-image arrangements, and pharmaceuticals must have specific "handedness" to be active. Chemists traditionally have used reagents containing heavy metals to control the handedness of their chemical reactions.
A study headed by Dr. Muhammet Uyanik at Nagoya University has found an ammonium iodine reagent allows chemists to be more selective in reactions and it would be more environmentally friendly than using metal.
"These selectivities represent that highest reported for a hypervalent iodine reagent-catalyzed reaction and are competitive with metal-catalyzed reactions in both yield and selectivity," French wrote in his article. "Additionally, the catalyst precursor is iodide, the same anion found in iodized salt. The co-oxidant is hydrogen peroxide, whose by-product after reaction is water."