N-Heterocyclic carbenes (NHC) are commonly featured as ligands in transition metal catalysis. Recently, a cyclic system containing four NHC groups with a central iron atom was synthesized and its iron(IV)-oxo species, [FeIV(O)(cNHC4)]2+, was characterized. This tetracyclic NHC ligand system may give the iron(IV)-oxo species unique catalytic properties as compared to traditional non-heme and heme iron ligand systems. Therefore, we performed a computational study on the structure and reactivity of the [FeIV(O)(cNHC4)]2+ complex in substrate hydroxylation and epoxidation reactions. The reactivity patterns are compared with cytochrome P450 Compound I and non-heme iron(IV)-oxo models and it is shown that the [FeIV(O)(cNHC4)]2+ system is an effective oxidant with oxidative power analogous to P450 Compound I. Unfortunately, in polar solvents, a solvent molecule will bind to the sixth ligand position and decrease the catalytic activity of the oxidant. A molecular orbital and valence bond analysis provides insight into the origin of the reactivity differences and makes predictions of how to further exploit these systems in chemical catalysis.
Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms
- Manchester Institute of Biotechnology