American Chemical Society
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Catalytic Reduction of Dioxygen to Water by a Bioinspired Non-Heme Iron Complex via a 2+2 Mechanism

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-10-04, 18:51 authored by Emma N. Cook, Diane A. Dickie, Charles W. Machan
We report a bioinspired non-heme Fe complex with a tripodal [N3O] ligand framework (Fe­(PMG)­(Cl)2) that is electrocatalytically active toward dioxygen reduction with acetic acid as a proton source in acetonitrile solution. Under electrochemical and chemical conditions, Fe­(PMG)­(Cl)2 selectively produces water via a 2+2 mechanism, where H2O2 is generated as a discrete intermediate species before further reduction to two equivalents of H2O. Mechanistic studies support a catalytic cycle for dioxygen reduction where an off-cycle peroxo dimer species is the resting state of the catalyst. Spectroscopic analysis of the reduced complex FeII(PMG)Cl shows the stoichiometric formation of an Fe­(III)-hydroxide species following exposure to H2O2; no catalytic activity for H2O2 disproportionation is observed, although the complex is electrochemically active for H2O2 reduction to H2O. Electrochemical studies, spectrochemical experiments, and DFT calculations suggest that the carboxylate moiety of the ligand is sensitive to hydrogen-bonding interactions with the acetic acid proton donor upon reduction from Fe­(III)/(II), favoring chloride loss trans to the tris-alkyl amine moiety of the ligand framework. These results offer insight into how mononuclear non-heme Fe active sites in metalloproteins distribute added charge and poise proton donors during reactions with dioxygen.