An iron complex with pendent amines as a molecular electrocatalyst for oxidation of hydrogen

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The increasing energy needs of society have led to a search for technologies that can tap carbon-neutral and sustainable energy sources, such as solar and wind. Using properly designed catalysts, such sources can also be used to create fuels such as hydrogen; however, a significant barrier to the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier is the need for an inexpensive and efficient catalyst for its oxidation. The oxidation of hydrogen is the process by which electricity is produced in low-temperature fuel cells, and the best catalyst for this is platinum-a precious metal of low abundance. Here we report a molecular complex of iron (an abundant and inexpensive metal) as a rationally designed electrocatalyst for the oxidation of H2 at room temperature, with turnover frequencies of 0.66-2.0 s-1 and low overpotentials of 160-220 mV. This iron complex, CpC6F5Fe(P tBu2NBn2)(H), has pendent amines in the diphosphine ligand that function as proton relays.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228-233
Number of pages6
JournalNature chemistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2013


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)

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