Infoscience

Thesis

Iron Complexes for Hydrogen Activation and Catalytic Hydrogenation

Inspired by Nature several groups have developed structural and functional iron complexes mimicking the active site of the iron-hydrogenases, which show high reactivity in the H2 cleavage. Usually pendant bases have been incorporated onto families of Fe complexes in order to achieve active systems. In the view of these recent developments, in chapter two, we investigated the possibility of synthesizing novel iron (II) complexes bearing an amine internal base and providing an open site for substrate binding as catalysts for H2 activation. Pentacoordinated Fe(II) low spin complexes [(PhPNP)Fe(CO)(bdt)] (1), [(PhPNP)Fe-(CO)(Nbt)] (4), [(CyPNP)Fe(CO)(Nbt)] (5), [(dppe)Fe(CO)(Nbt)] (6) and the paramagnetic complex [(CyPNP)FeCl2] (10) have been synthesized and fully characterised. Unfortunately, when these complexes were tested as catalysts for hydrogenation reaction of a wide range of unsaturated substrates, no appreciable reactivity was observed. Same behaviour was observed in the case of complexes [(CyPNP)Fe(CO)(Cp)] (11) and [(CyPNP)Fe(CH3CN)(Cp)] (12) where the Cp ligand was installed in order to modulate the electronic and steric properties on the iron center. In chapter three, a new class of well-defined iron pincer complexes is reported. Several Fe(II) complexes supported by a 2,6-bis(phosphinito)pyridine ligand (PONOP) have been synthesized and fully characterised. In particular, the Fe-hydride complexes [(iPrPONOP)-Fe(CO)(H)Br] (14) and [(iPrPONOP)Fe(CO)(H)(CH3CN)](OTf) (15) could activate H2 at room temperature. Moreover, complexes 14 and 15 served as catalysts for the selective hydrogenation of aldehydes at room temperature. In presence of sodium formate as hydrogen donor, 14 and 15 showed an excellent reactivity in hydrogen transfer reaction of aldehydes. The mechanism of hydrogen activation and hydrogenation is discussed based on the observed reactivity of iron complexes. The feature of being chemoselective towards aldehydes and a broad functional-group tolerance make these iron-hydride systems remarkable in the class of the earth-abundant-metal hydrogenation catalysts. Chapter four is dedicated to the tuning of the Fe-PONOP systems reported in chapter three in order to synthesize similar iron(II) complexes exhibiting enhanced reactivity for H2 activation and hydrogenation of unsaturated substrates. As first attempt, complexes [(CyPONOP)Fe(CO)Br2] (22) and the analogous chloride [(CyPONOP)Fe(CO)Cl2] (23) bearing the stronger donor CyPONOP ligand were synthesized and tested as catalysts for hydrogenation reaction, but none of the substrates employed was reduced. As second attempt, the CO ligand was substituted with the better donor ligand tert-butyl isocyanide in presence of iPrPONOP as pincer ligand. Several Fe-PONOP complexes were synthesized and fully characterized. In particular the Fe-hydride complex [(iPrPONOP)Fe(tBuNC)(H)Br] (25) exhibited reactivity towards hydrogenation of aldehydes under the same reaction conditions reported for 14. No reaction was observed in presence of acetophenone, cyclohexene and 1-decene demonstrating that, although spectroscopically different, 25 did not exhibit enhanced reactivity relative to 14.

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