Four-coordinate cobalt pincer complexes: Electronic structure studies and ligand modification by homolytic and heterolytic pathways

Scott P. Semproni, Carsten Milsmann, Paul J. Chirik

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A family of cobalt chloride, methyl, acetylide and hydride complexes bearing both intact and modified tert-butyl substituted bis(phosphino)pyridine pincer ligands has been synthesized and structurally characterized and their electronic structures evaluated. Treatment of the unmodified compounds with the stable nitroxyl radical, TEMPO (2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidin-1-yloxidanyl) resulted in immediate H- atom abstraction from the benzylic position of the chelate yielding the corresponding modified pincer complexes, ( tBumPNP)CoX (X = H, CH3, Cl, CCPh). Thermolysis of the methyl and hydride derivatives, (tBuPNP)CoCH3 and ( tBuPNP)CoH, at 110 °C also resulted in pincer modification by H atom loss while the chloride and acetylide derivatives proved inert. The relative ordering of benzylic C-H bond strengths was corroborated by H atom exchange experiments between appropriate intact and modified pincer complexes. The electronic structures of the modified compounds, (tBumPNP)CoX were established by EPR spectroscopy and DFT computations and are best described as low spin Co(II) complexes with no evidence for ligand centered radicals. The electronic structures of the intact complexes, (tBuPNP)CoX were studied computationally and bond dissociation free energies of the benzylic C-H bonds were correlated to the identity of the X-type ligand on cobalt where pure σ donors such as hydride and methyl produce the weakest C-H bonds. Comparison to a rhodium congener highlights the impact of the energetically accessible one-electron redox couple of the first row metal ion in generating weak C-H bonds in remote positions of the supporting pincer ligand.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9211-9224
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number25
StatePublished - Jun 25 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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