Reduction of CO2 by a masked two-coordinate cobalt(i) complex and characterization of a proposed oxodicobalt(ii) intermediate.


Department of Chemistry , Yale University , New Haven , Connecticut 06520 , USA . Email: [Email]


Fixation and chemical reduction of CO2 are important for utilization of this abundant resource, and understanding the detailed mechanism of C-O cleavage is needed for rational development of CO2 reduction methods. Here, we describe a detailed analysis of the mechanism of the reaction of a masked two-coordinate cobalt(i) complex, L tBuCo (where L tBu = 2,2,6,6-tetramethyl-3,5-bis[(2,6-diisopropylphenyl)imino]hept-4-yl), with CO2, which yields two products of C-O cleavage, the cobalt(i) monocarbonyl complex L tBuCo(CO) and the dicobalt(ii) carbonate complex (L tBuCo)2(μ-CO3). Kinetic studies and computations show that the κN,η6-arene isomer of L tBuCo rearranges to the κ2N,N' binding mode prior to binding of CO2, which contrasts with the mechanism of binding of other substrates to L tBuCo. Density functional theory (DFT) studies show that the only low-energy pathways for cleavage of CO2 proceed through bimetallic mechanisms, and DFT and highly correlated domain-based local pair natural orbital coupled cluster (DLPNO-CCSD(T)) calculations reveal the cooperative effects of the two metal centers during facile C-O bond rupture. A plausible intermediate in the reaction of CO2 with L tBuCo is the oxodicobalt(ii) complex L tBuCoOCoL tBu, which has been independently synthesized through the reaction of L tBuCo with N2O. The rapid reaction of L tBuCoOCoL tBu with CO2 to form the carbonate product indicates that the oxo species is kinetically competent to be an intermediate during CO2 cleavage by L tBuCo. L tBuCoOCoL tBu is a novel example of a thoroughly characterized molecular cobalt-oxo complex where the cobalt ions are clearly in the +2 oxidation state. Its nucleophilic reactivity is a consequence of high charge localization on the μ-oxo ligand between two antiferromagnetically coupled high-spin cobalt(ii) centers, as characterized by DFT and multireference complete active space self-consistent field (CASSCF) calculations.