The use of supporting ligands which can store either protons or electrons has emerged as a powerful strategy in catalysis. While these strategies are potent individually, natural systems mediate remarkable transformations by combining storage of both protons and electrons in the secondary coordination sphere. As such, there has been recent interest in using this strategy to enable fundamentally new transformations. Furthermore, outsourcing H-atom or hydrogen storage to ancillary ligands can also enable new mechanistic pathways and thereby selectivity. Here we describe the application of this strategy to facilitate radical reactivity in Co-based hydrogenation catalysis. Metalation of previously reported dihydrazonopyrrole ligands with Co results in paramagnetic complexes which are best described as having Co(II) oxidation states. These complexes catalytically hydrogenate olefins with low catalyst loadings under mild conditions (1 atm H2, 23 °C). Mechanistic, spectroscopic, and computational investigations indicate that this system goes through a radical hydrogen-atom transfer (HAT) type pathway that is distinct from classic organometallic mechanisms and is supported by the ability of the ligand to store H2. These results show how ancillary ligands can facilitate efficient catalysis and furthermore how classic organometallic mechanisms for catalysis can be altered by the secondary coordination sphere.
Additional data and spectra.