Iron and Copper Active Sites in Zeolites and Their Correlation to Metalloenzymes

Chem Rev. 2018 Mar 14;118(5):2718-2768. doi: 10.1021/acs.chemrev.7b00344. Epub 2017 Dec 19.


Metal-exchanged zeolites are a class of heterogeneous catalysts that perform important functions ranging from selective hydrocarbon oxidation to remediation of NO x pollutants. Among these, copper and iron zeolites are remarkably reactive, hydroxylating methane and benzene selectively at low temperature to form methanol and phenol, respectively. In these systems, reactivity occurs at well-defined molecular transition metal active sites, and in this review we discuss recent advances in the spectroscopic characterization of these active sites and their reactive intermediates. Site-selective spectroscopy continues to play a key role, making it possible to focus on active sites that exist within a distribution of inactive spectator metal centers. The definition of the geometric and electronic structures of metallozeolites has advanced to the level of bioinorganic chemistry, enabling direct comparison of metallozeolite active sites to functionally analogous Fe and Cu sites in biology. We identify significant parallels and differences in the strategies used by each to achieve high reactivity, highlighting potentially interesting mechanisms to tune the performance of synthetic catalysts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Catalysis
  • Catalytic Domain
  • Copper / chemistry*
  • Iron / chemistry*
  • Methane / chemistry
  • Methane / metabolism
  • Oxidoreductases / chemistry*
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Quantum Theory
  • Zeolites / chemistry*


  • Zeolites
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Oxidoreductases
  • Methane