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Electronic structure and reactivity of transition metal complexes incorporating pro-radical bis-phenoxide ligands

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
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Transition metal complexes with pro-radical ligands have received considerable research attention due to their interesting electronic structures, photophysical properties, and applications in catalysis. The relative ordering of metal and ligand frontier orbitals in a complex incorporating pro-radical ligands dictates whether oxidation/reduction occurs at the metal centre or at the ligand. Many metalloenzymes couple redox events at multiple metal centres or between metals and pro-radical ligands to facilitate multielectron chemistry. Owing to the simplicity of the active sites, many structural and functional models have been studied. One class of pro-radical ligand that has been investigated extensively are bis-imine bis-phenoxide ligands (i.e. salen) due to their highly modular syntheses. In this thesis, projects related to the synthesis, electronic structure, and reactivity of mono and bimetallic complexes incorporating the salen framework are explored. Chapter 2 presents a systematic investigation of the effects of geometry on the electronic structure of four bis-oxidized bimetallic Ni salen species. The tunability of their intense intervalence charge transfer (IVCT) transitions in the near infrared (NIR) by nearly 400 nm due to exciton coupling in the excited states is described. For the first time, this study demonstrates the applicability of exciton coupling to ligand radical systems absorbing in the NIR region. Chapter 3 investigates the ground-state electronic structure of a bis-oxidized Co dimer. Enhanced metal participation to the singly occupied molecular orbitals results in both high spin Co(III) and Co(II)-L• character in the ground state, and no observable band splitting in the NIR due to exciton coupling. Finally, Chapter 4 describes a series of oxidized nitridomanganese(V) salen complexes with different para ring substituents (R = CF3, tBu, and NMe2), demonstrating that nitride activation is dictated by remote ligand electronics. Upon one-electron oxidation, electron deficient ligands afford a Mn(VI) species and nitride activation, whereas an electron-rich ligand results in ligand based oxidation and resistance to N coupling of the nitrides. This study highlights the alternative reactivity pathways that pro-radical ligands impose on metal complexes and represents a key step in the use of NH3 as a hydrogen storage medium. The results presented herein provide a starting point for further efforts in reactivity with the salen platform.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Storr, Tim
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