Photochemical CO2 Reduction Using Rhenium(I) Tricarbonyl Complexes with Bipyridyl-Type Ligands with and without Second Coordination Sphere Effects

Laura Rotundo, David C. Grills, Roberto Gobetto, Emanuele Priola, Carlo Nervi, Dmitry E. Polyansky, Etsuko Fujita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effect of phenyl, phenol, aniline, amino, and CF3 substituents of the 2,2′-bipyridine ligand in fac-ReCl(L)(CO)3 (L=2,2′-bipyridine derivative) catalysts on photochemical CO2 reduction in dimethylacetamide is examined, in order to understand the structure-function relationships and to compare the catalytic activities with the previously published electrochemical results. All complexes including ReCl(bpy)(CO)3 have similar excited-state lifetimes and emission spectra, but complex 1 with the Ph-NH2 moiety exhibits a significantly larger molar absorption coefficient for its metal-to-ligand charge transfer (MLCT) band. All complexes we tested produce CO with only a negligible amount of H2 and formate in self-sensitized systems in the presence of triethanolamine (TEOA) and in some cases, BIH (1,3-dimethyl-2-phenyl-2,3-dihydro-1H-benzo[d]-imidazole). The presence of the Ph-NH2 moiety (complex 1) has a beneficial effect on both electrochemical and photochemical activity, allowing a turnover number (TON) of 32 and 120 for photochemical CO production (without and with BIH, respectively). In the case of the Ph-OH group in the second coordination sphere (complexes 4 and 6), these complexes are active for photochemical CO2 reduction, despite the formation of a stable 6-coordinate Re-OPh intermediate via reductive deprotonation as previously observed under electrochemical conditions. Overall, BIH accelerates the rate of formation of the one-electron reduced species (OERS) of the Re catalysts and allows higher turnover frequency (TOF) and TON for CO formation. The X-ray structures of complexes 1 and 4 were determined to have distorted octahedral Re centres, and show π-π stacking interactions with neighboring molecules as well as intramolecular hydrogen bonds to the internal chloride ligands. The unusually high absorptivity of the MLCT absorption of complex 1 has been explained by TD-DFT calculations.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • carbon dioxide reduction
  • photocatalysis
  • reductive deprotonation
  • rhenium
  • structure-function relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Analytical Chemistry

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