Redox catalysis has been broadly utilized in electrochemical synthesis due to its kinetic advantages over direct electrolysis. The appropriate choice of redox mediator can avoid electrode passivation and overpotential, which strongly inhibit the efficient activation of substrates in electrolysis. Despite the benefits brought by redox catalysis, establishing the precise nature of substrate activation remains challenging. Herein, we determine that a Co(I) complex bearing two N,N,N-tridentate ligands acts as a competent redox catalyst for the reduction of benzyl bromide substrates. Kinetic studies combining electroanalytical techniques with multivariable linear-regression analysis were conducted, disclosing an outer-sphere electron-transfer mechanism, which occurs in concert with C–Br bond cleavage. Furthermore, we apply a pattern recognition platform to distinguish between mechanisms in the activation of benzyl bromides, found to be dependent on the ligation state of the cobalt(I) center and ligand used.
Out-Sphere ET SI for ChemRxiv