In this review article, we consider the use of molecular oxygen in reactions mediated by polyoxometalates. Polyoxometalates are anionic metal oxide clusters of a variety of structures that are soluble in liquid phases and therefore amenable to homogeneous catalytic transformations. Often, they are active for electron transfer oxidations of a myriad of substrates and upon reduction can be reoxidized by molecular oxygen. For example, the phosphovanadomolybdate, H5PV2Mo10O40, can oxidize Pd(0) thereby enabling aerobic reactions catalyzed by Pd and H5PV2Mo10O40. In a similar vein, polyoxometalates can stabilize metal nanoparticles, leading to additional transformations. Furthermore, electron transfer oxidation of other substrates such as halides and sulfur-containing compounds is possible. More uniquely, H5PV2Mo10O40 and its analogues can mediate electron transfer-oxygen transfer reactions where oxygen atoms are transferred from the polyoxometalate to the substrate. This unique property has enabled correspondingly unique transformations involving carbon-carbon, carbon-hydrogen, and carbon-metal bond activation. The pathway for the reoxidation of vanadomolybdates with O2 appears to be an inner-sphere reaction, but the oxidation of one-electron reduced polyoxotungstates has been shown through intensive research to be an outer-sphere reaction. Beyond electron transfer and electron transfer-oxygen transfer aerobic transformations, there a few examples of apparent dioxygenase activity where both oxygen atoms are donated to a substrate.
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