Moving protons with pendant amines: Proton mobility in a nickel catalyst for oxidation of hydrogen

Molly O'Hagan, Wendy J. Shaw, Simone Raugei, Shentan Chen, Jenny Y. Yang, Uriah J. Kilgore, Daniel L. Dubois, R. Morris Bullock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Citations (Scopus)


Proton transport is ubiquitous in chemical and biological processes, including the reduction of dioxygen to water, the reduction of CO 2 to formate, and the production/oxidation of hydrogen. In this work we describe intramolecular proton transfer between Ni and positioned pendant amines for the hydrogen oxidation electrocatalyst [Ni(P Cy 2N Bn 2H) 2] 2+ (P Cy 2N Bn 2 = 1,5-dibenzyl-3,7-dicyclohexyl-1,5- diaza-3,7-diphosphacyclooctane). Rate constants are determined by variable-temperature one-dimensional NMR techniques and two-dimensional EXSY experiments. Computational studies provide insight into the details of the proton movement and energetics of these complexes. Intramolecular proton exchange processes are observed for two of the three experimentally observable isomers of the doubly protonated Ni(0) complex, [Ni(P Cy 2N Bn 2H) 2] 2+, which have N-H bonds but no Ni-H bonds. For these two isomers, with pendant amines positioned endo to the Ni, the rate constants for proton exchange range from 10 4 to 10 5 s -1 at 25 °C, depending on isomer and solvent. No exchange is observed for protons on pendant amines positioned exo to the Ni. Analysis of the exchange as a function of temperature provides a barrier for proton exchange of ΔG = 11-12 kcal/mol for both isomers, with little dependence on solvent. Density functional theory calculations and molecular dynamics simulations support the experimental observations, suggesting metal-mediated intramolecular proton transfers between nitrogen atoms, with chair-to-boat isomerizations as the rate-limiting steps. Because of the fast rate of proton movement, this catalyst may be considered a metal center surrounded by a cloud of exchanging protons. The high intramolecular proton mobility provides information directly pertinent to the ability of pendant amines to accelerate proton transfers during catalysis of hydrogen oxidation. These results may also have broader implications for proton movement in homogeneous catalysts and enzymes in general, with specific implications for the proton channel in the Ni-Fe hydrogenase enzyme.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14301-14312
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number36
Publication statusPublished - Sep 14 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry

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