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    In this study, we report a pair of electrocatalysts for the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) based on the noninnocent ligand diacetyl-2-(4-methyl-3-thiosemicarbazone)-3-(2-pyridinehydrazone) (H2DMTH, H2L1). The neutral complexes NiL1 and PdL1 were synthesized and characterized by spectroscopic and electrochemical methods. The complexes contain a non-coordinating, basic hydrazino nitrogen that is protonated during the HER. The pKa of this nitrogen was determined by spectrophotometric titration in acetonitrile to be 12.71 for NiL1 and 13.03 for PdL1. Cyclic voltammograms of both NiL1 and PdL1 in acetonitrile exhibit diffusion-controlled, reversible ligand-centered events at -1.83 and -1.79 V (vs ferrocenium/ferrocene) for NiL1 and PdL1, respectively. A quasi-reversible, ligand-centered event is observed at -2.43 and -2.34 V for NiL1 and PdL1, respectively. The HER activity in acetonitrile was evaluated using a series of neutral and cationic acids for each catalyst. Kinetic isotope effect (KIE) studies suggest that the precatalytic event observed is associated with a proton-coupled electron transfer step. The highest turnover frequency values observed were 6150 s-1 at an overpotential of 0.74 V for NiL1 and 8280 s-1 at an overpotential of 0.44 V for PdL1. Density functional theory (DFT) computations suggest both complexes follow a ligand-centered HER mechanism where the metals remain in the +2 oxidation state.


    Christine A Phipps, Dillon T Hofsommer, Megan J Toda, Francois Nkurunziza, Bhoomi Shah, Joshua M Spurgeon, Pawel M Kozlowski, Robert M Buchanan, Craig A Grapperhaus. Ligand-Centered Hydrogen Evolution with Ni(II) and Pd(II)DMTH. Inorganic chemistry. 2022 Jun 27;61(25):9792-9800

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    PMID: 35687329

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