Journal article

Local Structures and Heterogeneity of Silica-Supported M(III) Sites Evidenced by EPR, IR, NMR, and Luminescence Spectroscopies

Grafting molecular precursors on partially dehydroxylated silica followed by a thermal treatment yields silica-supported M(III) sites for a broad range of metals. They display unique properties such as high activity in olefin polymerization and alkane dehydrogenation (M = Cr) or efficient luminescence properties (M = Yb and Eu) essential for bioimaging. Here, we interrogate the local structure of the M(III) surface sites obtained from two molecular precursors, amides M(N(SiMe3)(2))(3) vs siloxides (M(OSi((OBu)-Bu-t)(3))(3)center dot L with L = (THF)(2) or HOSi((OBu)-Bu-t)(3) for M = Cr, Yb, Eu, and Y, by a combination of advanced spectroscopic techniques (EPR, IR, XAS, UV-vis, NMR, luminescence spectroscopies). For paramagnetic Cr(III), EPR (HYSCORE) spectroscopy shows hyperfine coupling to nitrogen only when the amide precursor is used, consistent with the presence of nitrogen neighbors. This changes their specific reactivity compared to Cr(III) sites in oxygen environments obtained from siloxide precursors: no coordination of CO and oligomer formation during the polymerization of ethylene due to the presence of a N donor ligand. The presence of the N-ligand also affects the photophysical properties of Yb and Eu by decreasing their lifetime, probably due to nonradiative deactivation of excited states by N-H bonds. Both types of precursors lead to a distribution of surface sites according to reactivity for Cr, luminescence spectroscopy for Yb and Eu, and dynamic nuclear polarization surface enhanced Y-89 NMR spectroscopy (DNP SENS). In particular, DNP SENS provides molecular-level information about the structure of surface sites by evidencing the presence of tri-, tetra-, and pentacoordinated Y-surface sites. This study provides unprecedented evidence and tools to assess the local structure of metal surface sites in relation to their chemical and physical properties.


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