Triphosphine-Ligated Copper Hydrides for CO2 Hydrogenation: Structure, Reactivity, and Thermodynamic Studies

Christopher M. Zall, John Linehan, Aaron Appel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


The copper(I) triphosphine complex LCu(MeCN)PF6 (L = 1,1,1-tris(diphenylphosphinomethyl)ethane), which we recently demonstrated is an active catalyst precursor for hydrogenation of CO2 to formate, reacts with H2 in the presence of a base to form a cationic dicopper hydride, [(LCu)2H]PF6. [(LCu)2H]+ is also an active precursor for catalytic CO2 hydrogenation, with equivalent activity to that of LCu(MeCN)+, and therefore may be a relevant catalytic intermediate. The thermodynamic hydricity of [(LCu)2H]+ was determined to be 41.0 kcal/mol by measuring the equilibrium constant for this reaction using three different bases. [(LCu)2H]+ and the previously reported dimer (LCuH)2 can be synthesized by the reaction of LCu(MeCN)+ with 0.5 and 1 equiv of KB(OiPr)3H, respectively. The solid-state structure of [(LCu)2H]+ shows threefold symmetry about a linear Cu-H-Cu axis and significant steric strain imposed by bringing two LCu+ units together around the small hydride ligand. [(LCu)2H]+ reacts stoichiometrically with CO2 to generate the formate complex LCuO2CH and the solvento complex LCu(MeCN)+. The rate of the stoichiometric reaction between [(LCu)2H]+ and CO2 is dramatically increased in the presence of bases that coordinate strongly to the copper center, e.g. DBU and TMG. In the absence of CO2, the addition of a large excess of DBU to [(LCu)2H]+ results in an equilibrium that forms LCu(DBU)+ and also presumably the mononuclear hydride LCuH, which is not directly observed. Due to the significantly enhanced CO2 reactivity of [(LCu)2H]+ under these catalytically relevant conditions, LCuH is proposed to be the catalytically active metal hydride.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9968-9977
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number31
Publication statusPublished - Aug 10 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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