Despite advances in the development of molecular catalysts capable of reducing dinitrogen to ammonia using proton donors and chemical reductants, few molecular electrocatalysts have been discovered. This Perspective considers the prospects of electrocatalyst development based on a mechanism featuring the cleavage of N2 into metal nitride complexes. By understanding the factors that control the reactivity of individual steps along the electrochemical N2 cleavage path, opportunities for new advances are identified. Ligand design principles for facile electrochemical N2 binding, formation of bridging N2 complexes, thermal or photochemical N2 cleavage, and conversion of a nitride ligand into ammonia are described, featuring recent advances and the authors' collaborative work on rhenium complexes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas