Generation and Aerobic Oxidative Catalysis of a Cu(II) Superoxo Complex Supported by a Redox-Active Ligand

20 May 2022, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Cu systems feature prominently in aerobic oxidative catalysis in both biology and synthetic chemistry. Metal ligand cooperativity is a common theme in both areas as exemplified by galactose oxidase and by aminoxyl radicals in alcohol oxidations. This has motivated investigations into the aerobic chemistry of Cu and specifically the isolation and study of Cu superoxo species that are invoked as key catalytic intermediates. While several examples of complexes that model biologically relevant Cu(II) superoxo intermediates have been reported, they are not typically compe-tent aerobic catalysts. Here, we report a new Cu complex of the redox-active ligand tBu,TolDHP (2,5-bis((2-t-butylhydrazono)(p-tolyl)methyl)-pyrrole) that activates O2 to generate a catalytically active Cu(II)-superoxo complex via ligand-based electron transfer. Characterization using UV-visible spectroscopy, Raman isotope labeling studies, and Cu extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) analysis confirms the as-signment of an end-on η1 superoxo complex. This Cu-O2 complex engages in a range of aerobic catalytic oxidations with substrates including alcohols and aldehydes. These results demonstrate that bio-inspired Cu systems can not only model important bioinorganic intermediates but can also mediate and provide mechanistic insight on aerobic oxidative transformations.


superoxo complexes
aerobic oxidation

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
Experimental procedures and additional data.


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