Configuring Bonds between First-Row Transition Metals

Reed J. Eisenhart, Laura J. Clouston, Connie C. Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


Conspectus Alfred Werner, who pioneered the field of coordination chemistry, envisioned coordination complexes as a single, transition metal atom at the epicenter of a vast ligand space. The idea that the locus of a coordination complex could be shared by multiple metals held together with covalent bonds would eventually lead to the discovery of the quadruple and quintuple bond, which have no analogues outside of the transition metal block. Metal-metal bonding can be classified into homometallic and heterometallic groups. Although the former is dominant, the latter is arguably more intriguing because of the inherently larger chemical space in which metal-metal bonding can be explored.In 2013, Lu and Thomas independently reported the isolation of heterometallic multiple bonds with exclusively first-row transition metals. Structural and theoretical data supported triply bonded Fe-Cr and Fe-V cores. This Account describes our continued efforts to configure bonds between first-row transition metals from titanium to copper. Double-decker ligands, or binucleating platforms that brace two transition metals in proximity, have enabled the modular synthesis of diverse metal-metal complexes. The resulting complexes are also ideal for investigating the effects of an "ancillary" metal on the properties and reactivities of an "active" metal center.A total of 38 bimetallic complexes have been compiled comprising 18 unique metal-metal pairings. Twenty-one of these bimetallics are strictly isostructural, allowing for a systematic comparison of metal-metal bonding. The nature of the chemical bond between first-row metals is remarkably variable and depends on two primary factors: the total d-electron count, and the metals' relative d-orbital energies. Showcasing the range of covalent bonding are a quintuply bonded (d-d)10 Mn-Cr heterobimetallic and the singly bonded late-late pairings, e.g., Fe-Co, which adopt unusually high spin states.A long-term goal is to rationally tailor the properties and reactivities of the bimetallic complexes. In some cases, synergistic redox and magnetic properties were found that are different from the expected sum of the individual metals. Intermetal charge transfer was shown in a Co-M series, for M = Mn to Cu, where the transition energy decreases as M is varied across the first-row period. The potential of using metal-metal complexes for multielectron reduction of small-molecules is addressed by N2 binding studies and a mechanistic study of a dicobalt catalyst in reductive silylation of N2 to N(SiMe3)3. Finally, metal-ion exchange reactions with metal-metal complexes can be selective under appropriate reaction conditions, providing an alternative synthetic route to metal-metal species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2885-2894
Number of pages10
JournalAccounts of Chemical Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Oct 22 2015

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© 2015 American Chemical Society.


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