Dual-Function, Light Switchable Cobalt Catalysis via Active Site Metamorphosis

Switchable catalysis offers opportunities to control the rate or selectivity of a reaction via a stimulus such as pH or light. However, few examples of switchable catalytic systems that can facilitate multiple processes exist. Here we report a rare example of such dual-functional, switchable catalysis. Featuring an easily prepared, bench-stable cobalt(I) hydride complex in conjunction with pinacolborane, we can completely alter the reaction outcome between two widely employed transformations – olefin migration and hydroboration – with visible light as the sole trigger. This dichotomy arises from ligand photodissociation which leads to metamorphosis of the active catalytic site, resulting in divergent mechanistic pathways.