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Title: Photoswitching a Molecular Catalyst to Regulate CO 2 Hydrogenation

Inspired by nature’s ability to regulate catalysis using physiological stimuli, azobenzene was incorporated into Rh(bis)diphosphine CO 2 hydrogenation catalysts to photoinitiate structural changes to modulate the resulting catalytic activity. The rhodium bound diphosphine ligands (P(Ph 2)-CH 2-N(R) CH 2-P(Ph2)) contain the terminal amine of a non-natural amino acid, either β-alanine (β-Ala) or γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA). For both β-ala and GABA containing complexes, the carboxylic acids of the amino acids were coupled to the amines of diaminoazobenzene, creating a rhodium bound trans-spanning tetraphosphine complex. The photo-induced cis-trans isomerization of the azobenzene-containing complexes imposes structural changes on these complexes, as evidenced by 1H NMR. We found that the CO 2 hydrogenation activity for the β-ala bound Rh complex is 40% faster with azobenzene in the cis configuration (16 s -1) than in the trans conformation (11 s -1), while the γ-aminobutyric acid containing Rh complex has the same rate (~17 s -1) in either the cis or the trans configuration at 27 °C. The corresponding complexes without the attached azobenzene were also prepared, characterized, and catalytically tested for comparison, and have rates of 30 s -1. Computational studies were undertaken to evaluate the difference in rate between the cis and trans isomersmore » for the β-Ala bound Rh complex, and revealed major structural changes between all cis and trans structures, but only minor structural changes that would be unique to the β-Ala bound Rh complex. We postulate that the slower rate of the azobenzene-containing β-Ala bound Rh complex is due to subtle changes in the bite angle arising from steric strain due to the trans-spanning azobenzene, altering hydricity and consequently rate. This work was supported by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Division of Chemical Sciences, Geosciences & Biosciences. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is a multiprogram national laboratory operated for the DOE by Battelle. A portion of this research was performed using EMSL, a national scientific user facility sponsored by the Department of Energy's Office of Biological and Environmental Research and located at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.« less
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  1. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1477-9226; 44681; KC0302010
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Dalton Transactions; Journal Volume: 44; Journal Issue: 33
Royal Society of Chemistry
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States). Environmental Molecular Sciences Lab. (EMSL)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory