Electrocatalytic Water Oxidation by a Phosphorus–Nitrogen O═PN3-Pincer Cobalt Complex

Pradip K. Das, Sarmistha Bhunia, Priyanka Chakraborty, Sudipta Chatterjee, Atanu Rana, Karthik Peramaiah, Merfat Alsabban, Indranil Dutta, Abhishek Dey, Kuo-Wei Huang

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Water oxidation is a primary step in natural as well as artificial photosynthesis to convert renewable solar energy into chemical energy/fuels. Electrocatalytic water oxidation to evolve O2, utilizing suitable low-cost catalysts and renewable electricity, is of fundamental importance considering contemporary energy and environmental issues, yet it is kinetically challenging owing to the complex multiproton/electron transfer processes. Herein, we report the first cobalt-based pincer catalyst for catalytic water oxidation at neutral pH with high efficiency under electrochemical conditions. Most importantly, ligand (pseudo)aromaticity is identified to play an important role during electrocatalysis. A significant potential jump (∼300 mV) was achieved toward a lower positive value when the aromatized cobalt complex was transformed into a (pseudo)dearomatized cobalt species. The dearomatized species catalyzes the water oxidation reaction to evolve oxygen at a much lower overpotential (∼340 mV) on the basis of the onset potential (at a current density of 0.5 mA/cm2) of catalysis at pH 10.5, outperforming other Co-based molecular catalysts reported to date. These observations may provide a new strategy for the judicious design of earth-abundant transition-metal-based water oxidation catalysts.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInorganic Chemistry
StatePublished - Nov 25 2020


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