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J Am Chem Soc. 2011 Sep 21;133(37):14649-65. doi: 10.1021/ja203249e. Epub 2011 Aug 29.

Water oxidation by a mononuclear ruthenium catalyst: characterization of the intermediates.

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  • 1Chemistry Department, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, New York 11973-5000, USA.


A detailed characterization of intermediates in water oxidation catalyzed by a mononuclear Ru polypyridyl complex [Ru(II)-OH(2)](2+) (Ru = Ru complex with one 4-t-butyl-2,6-di-(1',8'-naphthyrid-2'-yl)-pyridine ligand and two 4-picoline ligands) has been carried out using electrochemistry, UV-vis and resonance Raman spectroscopy, pulse radiolysis, stopped flow, and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry (ESI-MS) with H(2)(18)O labeling experiments and theoretical calculations. The results reveal a number of intriguing properties of intermediates such as [Ru(IV)═O](2+) and [Ru(IV)-OO](2+). At pH > 2.9, two consecutive proton-coupled one-electron steps take place at the potential of the [Ru(III)-OH](2+)/[Ru(II)-OH(2)](2+) couple, which is equal to or higher than the potential of the [Ru(IV)═O](2+)/[Ru(III)-OH](2+) couple (i.e., the observation of a two-electron oxidation in cyclic voltammetry). At pH 1, the rate constant of the first one-electron oxidation by Ce(IV) is k(1) = 2 × 10(4) M(-1) s(-1). While pH-independent oxidation of [Ru(IV)═O](2+) takes place at 1420 mV vs NHE, bulk electrolysis of [Ru(II)-OH(2)](2+) at 1260 mV vs NHE at pH 1 (0.1 M triflic acid) and 1150 mV at pH 6 (10 mM sodium phosphate) yielded a red colored solution with a Coulomb count corresponding to a net four-electron oxidation. ESI-MS with labeling experiments clearly indicates that this species has an O-O bond. This species required an additional oxidation to liberate an oxygen molecule, and without any additional oxidant it completely decomposed slowly to form [Ru(II)-OOH](+) over 2 weeks. While there remains some conflicting evidence, we have assigned this species as (1)[Ru(IV)-η(2)-OO](2+) based on our electrochemical, spectroscopic, and theoretical observations alongside a previously reported analysis by T. J. Meyer's group (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2010, 132, 1545-1557).

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