Tuning Redox Potentials of Bis(imino)pyridine Cobalt Complexes: An Experimental and Theoretical Study Involving Solvent and Ligand Effects

Dalton Trans. 2012 Mar 28;41(12):3562-73. doi: 10.1039/c2dt12195f. Epub 2012 Feb 8.


The structure and electrochemical properties of a series of bis(imino)pyridine Co(II) complexes (NNN)CoX(2) and [(NNN)(2)Co][PF(6)](2) (NNN = 2,6-bis[1-(4-R-phenylimino)ethyl]pyridine, with R = CN, CF(3), H, CH(3), OCH(3), N(CH(3))(2); NNN = 2,6-bis[1-(2,6-(iPr)(2)-phenylimino)ethyl]pyridine and X = Cl, Br) were studied using a combination of electrochemical and theoretical methods. Cyclic voltammetry measurements and DFT/B3LYP calculations suggest that in solution (NNN)CoCl(2) complexes exist in equilibrium with disproportionation products [(NNN)(2)Co](2+) [CoCl(4)](2-) with the position of the equilibrium heavily influenced by both the solvent polarity and the steric and electronic properties of the bis(imino)pyridine ligands. In strong polar solvents (e.g., CH(3)CN or H(2)O) or with electron donating substituents (R = OCH(3) or N(CH(3))(2)) the equilibrium is shifted and only oxidation of the charged products [(NNN)(2)Co](2+) and [CoCl(4)](2-) is observed. Conversely, in nonpolar organic solvents such as CH(2)Cl(2) or with electron withdrawing substituents (R = CN or CF(3)), disproportionation is suppressed and oxidation of the (NNN)CoCl(2) complexes leads to 18e(-) Co(III) complexes stabilized by coordination of a solvent moiety. In addition, the [(NNN)(2)Co][PF(6)](2) complexes exhibit reversible Co(II/III) oxidation potentials that are strongly dependent on the electron withdrawing/donating nature of the N-aryl substituents, spanning nearly 750 mV in acetonitrile. The resulting insight on the regulation of redox properties of a series of bis(imino)pyridine cobalt(II) complexes should be particularly valuable to tune suitable conditions for reactivity.