Conformational dynamics and proton relay positioning in nickel catalysts for hydrogen production and oxidation

James A. Franz, Molly O'Hagan, Ming Hsun Ho, Tianbiao Liu, Monte L. Helm, Sheri Lense, Daniel L. Dubois, Wendy J. Shaw, Aaron M. Appel, Simone Raugei, R. Morris Bullock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The [Ni(PR2NR2) 2]2+ complexes (where PR2N R2 is 1,5-R′-3,7-R-1,5-diaza-3,7- diphosphacyclooctane) are fast electrocatalysts for H2 production and oxidation. Binding of a fifth ligand (CH3CN or BF4 -) or chair/boat isomerization has the potential to slow catalysis by blocking the addition of H2 or by incorrectly positioning the pendant amines. We report the structural dynamics of a series of nickel complexes characterized by NMR spectroscopy and theoretical modeling to examine the effects of the fifth ligand for the Ni(II) complexes, including CH 3CN, BF4-, Cl-, and H-, as well as the differences in dynamics between the Ni(II) and Ni(0) oxidation states. A fast exchange process was observed for the [Ni(CH3CN) (PR2NR2)2] 2+ complexes, with rates ranging from 104 to 10 7 s-1 depending on the phosphorus and nitrogen substituents on the PR2NR2 ligand. This exchange process was identified to occur through a multistep mechanism, which consists of dissociation of the acetonitrile, boat/chair isomerization of each of the four rings (including nitrogen inversion), and reassociation of an acetonitrile on the opposite side of the complex. The rate of the chair/boat inversion was found to be influenced by varying the substituent on the nitrogen atom, but the rate of the overall exchange process is at least an order of magnitude faster than the catalytic rate in acetonitrile, demonstrating that the structural dynamics of the [Ni(CH 3CN)(PR2NR2) 2]2+ complexes do not hinder catalysis. Possible catalytic implications of the coordination of a fifth ligand to the Ni(II) complex are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7034-7042
Number of pages9
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Dec 9 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Conformational dynamics and proton relay positioning in nickel catalysts for hydrogen production and oxidation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this