Isolation of a Bimetallic Cobalt(III) Nitride and Examination of its Hydrogen Atom Abstraction Chemistry and Reactivity Towards H2

Room temperature photolysis of the bis(azide)cobaltate(II) complex [Na(THF)x][(ketguan)Co(N3)2] (ketguan = [(tBu2CN)C(NDipp)2]–, Dipp = 2,6-diisopropylphenyl) (3a) in THF cleanly forms the binuclear cobalt nitride [Na(THF)4{[(ketguan)Co(N3)]2(μ-N)}]n (1). Compound 1 represents the first example of an isolable, bimetallic cobalt nitride complex, and it has been fully characterized by spectroscopic, magnetic, and computational analyses. Density functional theory supports a CoIII=N=CoIII canonical form with significant π-bonding between the cobalt centers and the nitride atom. Unlike other Group 9 bridging nitride complexes, no radical character is detected at the bridging N-atom of 1. Indeed, 1 is unreactive towards weak C-H donors and even co-crystallizes with a molecule of cyclohexadiene (CHD) in its crystallographic unit cell to give 1·CHD as a room temperature stable product. Notably, addition of pyridine to 1 or photolyzed solutions of [(ketguan)Co(N3)(py)]2 (4a) leads to destabilization via activation of the nitride unit, resulting in the mixed-valent Co(II)/(III) bridged imido species [(ketguan)Co]2(μ-NH)(μ-N3) (5) formed from intermolecular hydrogen atom abstraction (HAA) of strong C-H bonds (BDE ~ 100 kcal/mol). Kinetic rate analysis of the formation of 5 in the presence of C6H12 or C6D12 gives a KIE = 2.5±0.1, supportive of a HAA formation path-way. The reactivity of our system was further probed by photolyzing C6D6/py-d5 solutions of 4a under an H2 atmosphere (150 psi), which leads to the exclusive formation of the bis(imido)[(ketguan)Co(μ-NH)]2 (6) as a result of dihydrogen activa-tion. These results provide unique insights into the chemistry and electronic structure of late 3d-metal nitrides while providing entryway into C-H activation pathways.