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J Am Chem Soc. 2005 Oct 12;127(40):14051-61.

Kinetics and mechanism of N2 hydrogenation in bis(cyclopentadienyl) zirconium complexes and dinitrogen functionalization by 1,2-addition of a saturated C-H bond.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Baker Laboratory, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


The rates of hydrogenation of the N2 ligand in the side-on bound dinitrogen compounds, [(eta(5)-C5Me4H)2Zr]2(mu2,eta(2),eta(2)-N2) and [(eta(5)-C5Me5)(eta(5)-C5H2-1,2-Me2-4-R)Zr]2(mu2,eta(2),eta(2)-N2) (R = Me, Ph), to afford the corresponding hydrido zirconocene diazenido complexes have been measured by electronic spectroscopy. Determination of the rate law for the hydrogenation of [(eta(5)-C5Me5)(eta(5)-C5H2-1,2,4-Me3)Zr]2(mu2,eta(2),eta(2)-N2) establishes an overall second-order reaction, first order with respect to each reagent. These data, in combination with a normal, primary kinetic isotope effect of 2.2(1) for H2 versus D2 addition, establish the first H2 addition as the rate-determining step in N2 hydrogenation. Kinetic isotope effects of similar direction and magnitude have also been measured for hydrogenation (deuteration) of the two other zirconocene dinitrogen complexes. Measuring the rate constants for the hydrogenation of [(eta(5)-C5Me5)(eta(5)-C5H2-1,2,4-Me3)Zr]2(mu2,eta(2),eta(2)-N2) over a 40 degrees C temperature range provided activation parameters of deltaH(double dagger) = 8.4(8) kcal/mol and deltaS(double dagger) = -33(4) eu. The entropy of activation is consistent with an ordered four-centered transition structure, where H2 undergoes formal 1,2-addition to a zirconium-nitrogen bond with considerable multiple bond character. Support for this hypothesis stems from the observation of N2 functionalization by C-H activation of a cyclopentadienyl methyl substituent in the mixed ring dinitrogen complexes, [(eta(5)-C5Me5)(eta(5)-C5H2-1,2-Me2-4-R)Zr]2(mu2,eta(2),eta(2)-N2) (R = Me, Ph), to afford cyclometalated zirconocene diazenido derivatives.

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