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Nat Chem. 2013 Jul;5(7):559-65. doi: 10.1038/nchem.1620. Epub 2013 May 26.

Recent developments in the homogeneous reduction of dinitrogen by molybdenum and iron.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York 14627, USA.


The reduction of gaseous nitrogen is a challenge for industrial, biological and synthetic chemists. Major goals include understanding the formation of ammonia for agriculture, and forming N-C and N-Si bonds for the synthesis of fine chemicals. The iron-molybdenum active site of the enzyme nitrogenase has inspired chemists to explore iron and molybdenum complexes in transformations related to N2 reduction. This area of research has gained significant momentum, and the past two years have witnessed a number of significant advances in synthetic Fe-N2 and Mo-N2 chemistry. Furthermore, the identities of all atoms in the iron-molybdenum cofactor of nitrogenase have finally been elucidated, and the discovery of a carbide has generated new questions and targets for coordination chemists. This Perspective summarizes the recent work on iron and molydenum complexes, and highlights the opportunities for continued research.

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