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Title: Photoswitching a Molecular Catalyst to Regulate CO2 Hydrogenation

Inspired by nature’s ability to regulate catalysis using physiological stimuli, azobenzene was incorporated into Rh(bis)diphosphine CO2 hydrogenation catalysts to photoinitiate structural changes to modulate the resulting catalytic activity. The rhodium bound diphosphine ligands (P(Ph2)-CH2-N(R) CH2-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 CO2 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 isomers for the β-Ala bound Rh complex, and revealed majormore » 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 Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States). Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory