Dinitrogen cleavage and functionalization by carbon monoxide promoted by a hafnium complex

Donald J. Knobloch, Emil Lobkovsky, Paul J. Chirik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

164 Scopus citations


Molecular nitrogen (N2) and carbon monoxide (CO) have the two strongest bonds in chemistry and present significant challenges in developing new transformations that exploit these two abundant feedstocks. At the core of this objective is the discovery of transition-metal compounds that promote the six-electron reductive cleavage of N2 at ambient temperature and pressure and also promote new nitrogen-element bond formation. Here we show that an organometallic hafnium compound induces N2 cleavage on the addition of CO, with a simultaneous assembly of new nitrogen-carbon and carbon-carbon bonds. Subsequent addition of a weak acid liberates oxamide, which demonstrates that an important agrochemical can be synthesized directly from N2 and CO. These studies introduce an alternative paradigm for N 2 cleavage and functionalization in which the six-electron reductive cleavage is promoted by both the transition metal and the incoming ligand, CO, used for the new bond formations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-35
Number of pages6
JournalNature chemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering


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