Activation of Ammonia and Hydrazine by Electron Rich Fe(II) Complexes Supported by a Dianionic Pentadentate Ligand Platform Through a Common Terminal Fe(III) Amido Intermediate

18 November 2020, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


We report the use of electron rich iron complexes supported by a dianionic diborate pentadentate ligand system, B2Pz4Py, for the coordination and activation of ammonia (NH3) and hydrazine (NH2NH2). For ammonia, coordination to neutral (B2Pz4Py)Fe(II) or cationic [(B2Pz4Py)Fe(III)]+ platforms leads to well characterized ammine complexes from which hydrogen atoms or protons can be removed to generate, fleetingly, a proposed (B2Pz4Py)Fe(III)- NH2 complex (3Ar-NH2). DFT computations suggest a high degree of spin density on the amido ligand, giving it significant aminyl radical character. It rapidly traps the H atom abstracting agent 2,4,6-tri-tert-butylphenoxy radical (ArO•) to form a C-N bond in a fully characterized product (2Ar), or scavenges hydrogen atoms to return to the ammonia complex (B2Pz4Py)Fe(II)-NH3 (1ArNH3). Interestingly, when (B2Pz4Py)Fe(II) is reacted with NH2NH2, a fully characterized bridging diazene complex, 4Ar, is formed along with ammonia adduct 1Ar-NH3 as the spectroscopically observed (-78˚C) (B2Pz4Py)Fe(II)-NH2NH2-Fe(II)( B2Pz4Py) dimer (1Ar)2-NH2NH2 is allowed to warm to room temperature. Experimental and computational evidence is presented to suggest that (B2Pz4Py)Fe(II) induces reductive cleavage of the N-N bond in hydrazine to produce the Fe(III)-NH2 complex 3Ar-NH2, which abstracts H• atoms from (1Ar)2-NH2NH2 to generate the observed products. All of these transformations are relevant to proposed steps in the ammonia oxidation reaction, an important process for the use of nitrogen-based fuels enabled by abundant first row transition metals.


pentadentate ligands
ammonia oxidation reaction
Hydrazine activation
ammonia activation
inorganic reaction mechanisms


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