Coordination- and Redox-Noninnocent Behavior of Ambiphilic Ligands Containing Antimony. Academic Article uri icon


  • Stimulated by applications in catalysis, the chemistry of ambiphilic ligands featuring both donor and acceptor functionalities has experienced substantial growth in the past several years. The unique opportunities in catalysis offered by ambiphilic ligands stem from the ability of their acceptor functionalities to play key roles via metal-ligand cooperation or modulation of the reactivity of the metal center. Ligands featuring group 13 centers, most notably boranes, as their acceptor functionalities have undoubtedly spearheaded these developments, with remarkable results having been achieved in catalytic hydrogenation and hydrosilylation. Motivated by these developments as well as by our fundamental interest in the chemistry of heavy group 15 elements, we became fascinated by the possibility of employing antimony centers as Lewis acids within ambiphilic ligands. The chemistry of antimony-based ligands, most often encountered as trivalent stibines, has historically been considered to mirror that of their lighter phosphorus-based congeners. There is growing evidence, however, that antimony-based ligands may display unique coordination behavior and reactivity. Additionally, despite the diverse Lewis acid and redox chemistry that antimony exhibits, there have been only limited efforts to explore this chemistry within the coordination sphere of a transition metal. By incorporation of antimony into the framework of polydentate ligands in order to enforce the main group metal-transition metal interaction, the effect of redox and coordination events at the antimony center on the structure, electronics, and reactivity of the metal complex may be investigated. This Account describes our group's continuing efforts to probe the coordination behavior, reactivity, and application of ambiphilic ligands incorporating antimony centers. Structural and theoretical studies have established that both Sb(III) and Sb(V) centers in polydentate ligands may act as Z-type ligands toward late transition metals. Although coordinated to a metal, the antimony centers in these complexes retain residual Lewis acidity, as evidenced by their ability to participate in anion binding. Anion binding events at the antimony center have been shown by structural, spectroscopic, and theoretical studies to perturb the antimony-transition metal interaction and in some cases to trigger reactivity at the metal center. Coordinated Sb(III) centers in polydentate ligands have also been found to readily undergo two-electron oxidation, generating strongly Lewis acidic Sb(V) centers in the coordination sphere of the metal. Theoretical studies suggest that oxidation of the coordinated antimony center induces an umpolung of the antimony-metal bond, resulting in depletion of electron density at the metal center. In addition to elucidating the fundamental coordination and redox chemistry of antimony-containing ambiphilic ligands, our work has demonstrated that these unusual behaviors show promise for use in a variety of applications. The ability of coordinated antimony centers to bind anions has been exploited for sensing applications, in which anion coordination at antimony leads to a colorimetric response via a change in the geometry about the metal center. In addition, the capacity of antimony Lewis acids to modulate the electron density of coordinated metals has proved to be key in facilitating photochemical activation of M-X bonds as well as antimony-centered redox-controlled catalysis.

published proceedings

  • Acc Chem Res

altmetric score

  • 4.6

author list (cited authors)

  • Jones, J. S., & Gabba, F. P.

citation count

  • 113

complete list of authors

  • Jones, J Stuart||Gabbaï, François P

publication date

  • April 2016