Inorganic Chemistry

Mechanistic Comparisons of bpy and phen Ligand Backbones in Cr-Mediated Co-Electrocatalytic CO2 Reduction



Due to the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations, there is a need for the development of new strategies to enhance the selectivity and activity of the electrocatalytic conversion of CO2 to value-added products. The incorporation of redox mediators (RMs) as co-catalysts to enhance the transfer of redox equivalents during catalysis has been gaining more attention in recent years across a variety of small molecule transformations. We have shown that using Cr-centered complexes with sulfone-based RMs leads to an enhancement of CO2 reduction electrocatalysis under protic conditions via an inner-sphere mechanism. In these co-catalytic systems, an oxygen atom of the reduced RM binds to the Cr center to form a key intermediate stabilized by pancake bonding between the reduced aromatic components of the catalyst ligand backbone and the RM. This interaction facilitates the transfer of an electron and accesses a more kinetically favorable reaction pathway. Here, we show that expanding the aromatic character of the ligand backbone of the catalyst as well as the RM can cause a greater enhancement of co-electrocatalytic activity. These results suggest that further activity improvements can be achieved by focusing on the kinetic and thermodynamic parameters which control association between the catalyst and RM.


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Supplementary material

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Supporting Information
description of procedures, supplementary experimental and theoretical data