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Manipulating the Rate-Limiting Step in Water Oxidation Catalysis by Ruthenium Bipyridine–Dicarboxylate Complexes

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posted on 2016-11-01, 19:23 authored by David W. Shaffer, Yan Xie, David J. Szalda, Javier J. Concepcion
In order to gain a deeper mechanistic understanding of water oxidation by [(bda)­Ru­(L)2] catalysts (bdaH2 = [2,2′-bipyridine]-6,6′-dicarboxylic acid; L = pyridine-type ligand), a series of modified catalysts with one and two trifluoromethyl groups in the 4 position of the bda2– ligand was synthesized and studied using stopped-flow kinetics. The additional −CF3 groups increased the oxidation potentials for the catalysts and enhanced the rate of electrocatalytic water oxidation at low pH. Stopped-flow measurements of cerium­(IV)-driven water oxidation at pH 1 revealed two distinct kinetic regimes depending on catalyst concentration. At relatively high catalyst concentration (ca. ≥10–4 M), the rate-determining step (RDS) was a proton-coupled oxidation of the catalyst by cerium­(IV) with direct kinetic isotope effects (KIE > 1). At low catalyst concentration (ca. ≤10–6 M), the RDS was a bimolecular step with kH/kD ≈ 0.8. The results support a catalytic mechanism involving coupling of two catalyst molecules. The rate constants for both RDSs were determined for all six catalysts studied. The presence of −CF3 groups had inverse effects on the two steps, with the oxidation step being fastest for the unsubstituted complexes and the bimolecular step being faster for the most electron-deficient complexes. Though the axial ligands studied here did not significantly affect the oxidation potentials of the catalysts, the nature of the ligand was found to be important not only in the bimolecular step but also in facilitating electron transfer from the metal center to the sacrificial oxidant.