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Photolytic water oxidation catalyzed by a molecular carbene iridium complex

2012-10-10, Petronilho, Ana, Rahman, Mahfujur, Woods, James A., Al-Sayyed, Haris, Müller-Bunz, Helge, MacElroy, J. M. Don, Bernhard, Stefan, Albrecht, Martin

The complex IrCl2(Cp*)(trz) (trz = triazolylidene), 2, was prepared from readily available 1,3-dimethyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3-triazolium salt. Under basic conditions, the C-bound phenyl group readily cyclometalates, while under acidic conditions, cyclometalation is reversed. The sensitivity of the Caryl–Ir bond but not the Ctrz–Ir bond towards acidolysis provided a basis for using 2 as a catalyst in CeIV-mediated water oxidation. The catalytic activity is characterized by a robust catalytic cycle, affording excellent turnover numbers (TON > 20 000). Under cerium-free conditions and in the presence of hematite as a photoelectrode, light-induced activity was observed. The photoelectrochemical reaction is strongly pH-dependent, which requires pH adjustments when running multiple cycle experiments to regenerate the catalytic activity. Analogous chelating complexes display better stability and higher catalytic activity than the monodentate complex 2.