Thermal Decomposition Mechanisms of Volatile Molybdenum(VI) Bis-Imides

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


The bis(tert-butylimido)-molybdenum(VI) framework has been used successfully in the design of vapor-phase precursors for molybdenum-containing thin films, so understanding its thermal behavior is important for such applications. Here we report the thermal decomposition mechanism for a series of volatile bis(alkylimido)-dichloromolybdenum(VI) adducts with neutral N,N’-chelating ligands, to probe the stability and decomposition pathways for these industrially relevant molecules. The alkyl groups explored were tert-butyl, tert-pentyl, 1-adamantyl, and a cyclic imido (from 2,5-dimethylhexane-2,5-diamine). We also report the synthesis of the new tert-octyl imido adducts, (tOctN)2MoCl2·L (L = N,N,N’,N’ tetramethylethylenediamine or 2,2'-bipyridine), which have been fully characterized by spectroscopic techniques as well as single-crystal X-ray diffraction and thermal analysis. We found that the decomposition of all compounds follows the same general pathway, proceeding first by the dissociation of the chelating ligand to give the coordinatively unsaturated species (RN)2MoCl2. Subsequent dimerization results in either an imido bridged adduct, [(RN)Mo(μ-NR)Cl2]2, or a chloride bridged adduct, [(RN)2Mo(μ-Cl)Cl]2, depending on the size of the R group. The dimeric species then undergoes an intramolecular γ-hydrogen transfer to yield a nitrido-amido adduct (RHN)MoNCl2, and an alkene. Ultimately, the resulting molybdenum species decomposes into free tert-alkylamine and β-Mo2N. The thermolysis reactions have been monitored using 1H NMR spectroscopy, and the volatile decomposition products were analyzed using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. A key intermediate has also been detected using electron ionization high-resolution mass spectrometry. Finally, a detailed computational investigation supports the mechanism outlined above and helps explain the relative stabilities of different N,N’-chelated bis(alkylimido)-dichloromolybdenum(VI) adducts.


Thermal Stability
Precursor Design
Chemical Structure
Quantum Chemistry

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
NMR and IR spectra, in situ and solid-state thermolysis reactions, EI-HRMS analysis, TGA plots, DSC curves, crystallographic images.
Quantum Chemical Results
Cartesian coordinates, images of optimized structures, trajectories and movies of all IRC pathways, calculated electronic energies, thermodynamic corrections, reaction energies.


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