Enabling Two-Electron Pathways with Iron and Cobalt: From Ligand Design to Catalytic Applications

Rebeca Arevalo, Paul J. Chirik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Homogeneous catalysis with Earth-abundant, first-row transition metals, including iron and cobalt, has gained considerable recent attention as a potentially cost-effective and sustainable alternative to more commonly and historically used precious metals. Because fundamental organometallic transformations, such as oxidative addition and reductive elimination, are two-electron processes and essential steps in many important catalytic cycles, controlling redox chemistry - in particular overcoming one-electron chemistry - has been as a central challenge with Earth-abundant metals. This Perspective focuses on approaches to impart sufficiently strong ligand fields to generate electron-rich metal complexes able to promote oxidative addition reactions where the redox changes are exclusively metal-based. Emphasis is placed on how ligand design and exploration of fundamental organometallic chemistry coupled with mechanistic understanding have been used to discover iron catalysts for the hydrogen isotope exchange in pharmaceuticals and cobalt catalysts for C(sp2)-H borylation reactions. A pervasive theme is that first-row metal complexes often promote unique chemistry from their precious-metal counterparts, demonstrating that these elements offer a host of new opportunities for reaction discovery and for more sustainable catalysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9106-9123
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number23
StatePublished - Jun 12 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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