American Chemical Society
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Immobilization of “Capping Arene” Cobalt(II) Complexes on Ordered Mesoporous Carbon for Electrocatalytic Water Oxidation

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posted on 2021-12-02, 16:06 authored by Chang Liu, Ana M. Geer, Christopher Webber, Charles B. Musgrave, Shunyan Gu, Grayson Johnson, Diane A. Dickie, Sonia Chabbra, Alexander Schnegg, Hua Zhou, Cheng-Jun Sun, Sooyeon Hwang, William A. Goddard, Sen Zhang, T. Brent Gunnoe
We report the synthesis, characterization, and electrocatalytic water oxidation activity of two cobalt complexes, (6-FP)­Co­(NO3)2 (1) (6-FP = 8,8′-(1,2-phenylene)­diquinoline) and (5-FP)­Co­(NO3)2 (2) (5-FP = 1,2-bis­(N-7-azaindolyl)­benzene), containing “capping arene” bidentate ligands with nitrogen atom donors. The cobalt complexes 1 and 2 were supported on ordered mesoporous carbon (OMC) by π–π stacking, resulting in heterogenized cobalt materials 6-FP-Co-OMC-1 and 5-FP-Co-OMC-2, respectively, and studied for electrocatalytic water oxidation. We find that 6-FP-Co-OMC-1 exhibits an overpotential of 355 mV for a current density of 10 mA cm–2 and a turnover frequency (TOF) of ∼0.53 s–1 at an overpotential of 400 mV at pH 14. 6-FP-Co-OMC-1 exhibits activity that is ∼1.6 times that of 5-FP-Co-OMC-2, which gives a TOF of 0.32 s–1 at 400 mV overpotential. The structural stability of the single-atom Co site was demonstrated for 6-FP-Co-OMC-1 using X-ray absorption spectroscopy for the molecular complex supported on OMC, but slow degradation in catalyst activity can be attributed to eventual formation of Co oxide clusters. DFT computations of electrocatalytic water oxidation using the molecular complexes as models provide a description of the catalytic mechanism. These studies reveal that the mechanism for O–O bond formation involves an intermediate CoIV oxo complex that undergoes an intramolecular reductive O–O coupling to form a CoII–OOH species. Further, the calculations predict that the molecular 6-FP-Co structure is more active for electrocatalytic water oxidation than 5-FP-Co, which is consistent with experimental studies of 6-FP-Co-OMC-1 and 5-FP-Co-OMC-2, highlighting the possibility that the ligand structure influences the catalytic activity of the supported molecular catalysts.