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Molecular Cobalt Pentapyridine Catalysts for Generating Hydrogen from Water

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posted on 22.06.2011 by Yujie Sun, Julian P. Bigi, Nicholas A. Piro, Ming Lee Tang, Jeffrey R. Long, Christopher J. Chang
A set of robust molecular cobalt catalysts for the generation of hydrogen from water is reported. The cobalt complex supported by the parent pentadentate polypyridyl ligand PY5Me2 features high stability and activity and 100% Faradaic efficiency for the electrocatalytic production of hydrogen from neutral water, with a turnover number reaching 5.5 × 104 mol of H2 per mole of catalyst with no loss in activity over 60 h. Control experiments establish that simple Co(II) salts, the free PY5Me2 ligand, and an isostructural PY5Me2 complex containing redox-inactive Zn(II) are all ineffective for this reaction. Further experiments demonstrate that the overpotential for H2 evolution can be tuned by systematic substitutions on the ancillary PY5Me2 scaffold, presaging opportunities to further optimize this first-generation platform by molecular design.