Electrochemical, Spectroscopic, and Theoretical Studies on the Effects of Exchanging Se for S in the 2FeE (E= S or Se) Butterfly Core and Modifications to the µ-E to µ-E Linkers in [FeFe]-Hydrogenase Inspired Electrocatalysts for H₂ Production
AuthorSmith, Elliott Ryan
AdvisorLichtenberger, Dennis L.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractMolecular hydrogen has been proposed as an energy store to help meet the world's ever increasing demand for clean energy because the oxidation product (produced by either combustion or in a fuel cell) results in the formation of water. To realize this goal, energy efficient catalysts comprised of earth abundant elements must be used. The work in this dissertation describes investigations of diiron dichalcogen catalysts used for proton reduction. These complexes are inspired by the active site of the [FeFe]-hydrogenase enzyme. Catalysts were extensively studied with cyclic voltammetry in conjunction with photoelectron spectroscopy and density functional theory calculations in order to determine the effects that bridging ligands and 2Fe2E (E = S or Se) core substitutions have on the electronic structure and catalytic ability of these complexes. The complex µ-(pyrazine-2,3-dithiolato)diironhexacarbonyl (pyrazine-cat) was prepared and found to catalyze proton reduction at a -0.49 V overpotential, which represents a 16% decrease over the previously studied complex µ-(benzene-1,2-dithiolato)diironhexacarbonyl (benz-cat). Electrochemical investigations in conjunction with DFT calculations indicated the possibility of two mechanisms for proton reduction, both of the ECEC type. The first mechanism is Fe-based and analogous to the mechanism reported for benz-cat. The second is a nitrogen-based mechanism which occurs at more negative potentials than the Fe-based mechanism. Overall, pyrazine-cat maintained the ability to mediate successive redox states similar to benz-cat and the electron withdrawing nature of the pyrazine caused the initial reduction to occur at a lower potential than benz-cat. Ultimately this results in the decreased overpotential for catalytic proton reduction by pyrazine-cat. Investigations of the electronic structure and catalytic ability of complexes of the type (µ-ECH₂XCH₂E-µ)Fe₂(CO)₆ where E = S or Se and X = CH₂, S or Se were also carried out. All complexes were found to catalyze H₂ production from acetic acid in acetonitrile. DFT calculations indicate that when X = S or Se the HOMO changes character from predominatly metal based (X = CH2) to containing significant chalcogen lone pair character. The presence of the chalcogen lone pair character helps to facilitate a rotated structure in either the oxidized or reduced forms of these complexes. Through computations it was found that oxidation of the X = S or Se complexes results in a CO ligand rotating into a semi-bridging position, which opens a vacant site on one of the Fe-centers. The bridgehead bends toward this vacant site donating electron density greatly stabilizing the cation and more interestingly forming a structure which strongly resembles the active site of the [FeFe]-hydorgenase. Complexes which contain a chalcogen in the bridgehead undergo potential inversion, leading to a two-electron initial reduction. This is in part due to electron-electron repulsion between chalcogen lone pair electrons and the reduced Fe-centers, which leads to the formation of a rotated dianion.Complexes with the general structure (µ-E (CH₂)nE-µ)Fe₂ (CO)₆ where E = S or Se and n = 3, 4, or 5 were investigated using cyclic voltammetry, photoelectron spectroscopy, and DFT calculations. Substitution of Se in the 2Fe2E core for S resulted in a lengthening of the FeFe bond. As the linker length increased from n =3 to 5, one of the apical CO's is pushed down due to a steric interaction creating a more obtuse Fe-Fe-C angle. Larger effects of the linker length were seen in the oxidation and reduction chemistry. CV and UPS show that linker length has little effect on the oxidation potential or onset ionization energy. Computations predict that the oxidized structure is rotated, and as the linker length increases there is an agostic interaction which forms between a methylene proton and the vacant site on the rotated Fe-center. Reduction potentials for these complexes are found to decrease with increasing linker length, which was attributed to the steric interaction between the alkane linker and the apical CO helping to facilitate rotation of the anion. Interestingly catalytic potentials were found to depend almost entirely on chalcogen character in the 2Fe2E core, with S-containing catalysts having a lower catalytic potential than Se-containing catalysts. The long known complex [η⁵-CpFe(CO)SMe]₂ was investigated as both a proton reduction and H₂ oxidation catalyst. Reduction of [η⁵-CpFe(CO)SMe]₂ revealed that the complex undergoes a two electron irreversible reduction and the reduced species precipitates onto the glassy carbon electrode surface. The new species on the electrode surface facilitates proton reduction at a -0.3 V overpotential, which is significantly lower (0.9 V) than the most similar complex Fp₂. Unlike previous catalysts of this type, [η⁵-CpFe(CO)SMe]₂ catalytic current does not decrease as overpotential decreases. [η⁵-CpFe(CO)SMe]₂ was also shown to undergo two one-electron oxidations, and in the presence of H₂ and the dication, appears to oxidize H₂. The ability of [η⁵-CpFe(CO)SMe]₂ to both oxidize H₂ and reduce protons to H₂ addresses a known deficiency for catalysts mimicking the function of the active site of the [FeFe]-hydrogenase.
Degree ProgramGraduate College