Controlling Oxygen Reduction Selectivity through Steric Effects: Electrocatalytic Two-Electron and Four-Electron Oxygen Reduction with Cobalt Porphyrin Atropisomers

Lv, B. and Li, X. and Guo, K. and Ma, J. and Wang, Y. and Lei, H. and Wang, F. and Jin, X. and Zhang, Q. and Zhang, W. and Long, R. and Xiong, Y. and Apfel, U.-P. and Cao, R.

Volume: 60 Pages: 12742-12746
DOI: 10.1002/anie.202102523
Published: 2021

Achieving a selective 2 e− or 4 e− oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) is critical but challenging. Herein, we report controlling ORR selectivity of Co porphyrins by tuning only steric effects. We designed Co porphyrin 1 with meso-phenyls each bearing a bulky ortho-amido group. Due to the resulted steric hinderance, 1 has four atropisomers with similar electronic structures but dissimilar steric effects. Isomers αβαβ and αααα catalyze ORR with n=2.10 and 3.75 (n is the electron number transferred per O2), respectively, but ααββ and αααβ show poor selectivity with n=2.89–3.10. Isomer αβαβ catalyzes 2 e− ORR by preventing a bimolecular O2 activation path, while αααα improves 4 e− ORR selectivity by improving O2 binding at its pocket, a feature confirmed by spectroscopy methods, including O K-edge near-edge X-ray absorption fine structure. This work represents an unparalleled example to improve 2 e− and 4 e− ORR by tuning only steric effects without changing molecular and electronic structures. © 2021 Wiley-VCH GmbH

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