Water oxidation by a mononuclear ruthenium catalyst: Characterization of the intermediates

Dmitry E. Polyansky, James T. Muckerman, Jonathan Rochford, Ruifa Zong, Randolph P. Thummel, Etsuko Fujita

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144 Citations (Scopus)


A detailed characterization of intermediates in water oxidation catalyzed by a mononuclear Ru polypyridyl complex [RuII-OH2] 2+ (Ru = Ru complex with one 4-t-butyl-2,6-di-(1′,8′- naphthyrid-2′-yl)-pyridine ligand and two 4-picoline ligands) has been carried out using electrochemistry, UV-vis and resonance Raman spectroscopy, pulse radiolysis, stopped flow, and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) with H218O labeling experiments and theoretical calculations. The results reveal a number of intriguing properties of intermediates such as [RuIV=O]2+ and [Ru IV-OO]2+. At pH > 2.9, two consecutive proton-coupled one-electron steps take place at the potential of the [RuIII-OH] 2+/[RuII-OH2]2+ couple, which is equal to or higher than the potential of the [RuIV=O] 2+/[RuIII-OH]2+ couple (i.e., the observation of a two-electron oxidation in cyclic voltammetry). At pH 1, the rate constant of the first one-electron oxidation by Ce(IV) is k1 = 2 × 104 M-1 s-1. While pH-independent oxidation of [RuIV=O]2+ takes place at 1420 mV vs NHE, bulk electrolysis of [RuII-OH2]2+ at 1260 mV vs NHE at pH 1 (0.1 M triflic acid) and 1150 mV at pH 6 (10 mM sodium phosphate) yielded a red colored solution with a Coulomb count corresponding to a net four-electron oxidation. ESI-MS with labeling experiments clearly indicates that this species has an O-O bond. This species required an additional oxidation to liberate an oxygen molecule, and without any additional oxidant it completely decomposed slowly to form [RuII-OOH]+ over 2 weeks. While there remains some conflicting evidence, we have assigned this species as 1[RuIV2-OO]2+ based on our electrochemical, spectroscopic, and theoretical observations alongside a previously reported analysis by T. J. Meyer group (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2010, 132, 1545-1557).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14649-14665
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number37
Publication statusPublished - Sep 21 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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