Combining Metal-Metal Cooperativity, Metal-Ligand Cooperativity and Chemical Non-Innocence in Diiron Carbonyl Complexes



Several metalloenzymes, including [FeFe]-hydrogenase, employ cofactors wherein multiple metal atoms work together with surrounding ligands that mediate heterolytic and concerted proton-electron transfer (CPET) bond activation steps. Herein, we report a new dinucleating PNNP expanded pincer ligand, which can bind two low-valent iron atoms in close proximity to enable metal-metal cooperativity (MMC). In addition, reversible partial dearomatization of the ligand’s naphthyridine core enables both heterolytic metal-ligand cooperativity (MLC) and chemical non-innocence through CPET steps. Thermochemical and computational studies show how a change in ligand binding mode can lower the bond dissociation free energy of ligand C(sp3)–H bonds by ~25 kcal mol-1. H-atom abstraction enabled trapping of an unstable intermediate, which undergoes facile loss of two carbonyl ligands to form an unusual paramagnetic (S = 1/2) complex containing a mixed-valent iron(0)-iron(I) core bound within a partially dearomatized PNNP ligand. Finally, cyclic voltammetry experiments showed that these diiron complexes show catalytic activity for the electrochemical hydrogen evolution reaction. This work presents the first example of a ligand system that enables MMC, heterolytic MLC and chemical non-innocence, thereby providing important insights and opportunities for the development of bimetallic systems that exploit these features to enable new (catalytic) reactivity.


Supplementary material

Supporting information
Experimental procedures and details, NMR spectra, and computational and crystallographic computational details can be found in the supporting information