Self-Assembled Nickel-4 Supramolecular Squares and Assays for HER Electrocatalysts Derived Therefrom.
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Solid-state structures find a self-assembled tetrameric nickel cage with carboxylate linkages, [Ni(N2S'O)I(CH3CN)]4 ([Ni-I]40), resulting from sulfur acetylation by sodium iodoacetate of an [NiN2S]22+ dimer in acetonitrile. Various synthetic routes to the tetramer, best described from XRD as a molecular square, were discovered to generate the hexacoordinate nickel units ligated by N2Sthioether, iodide, and two carboxylate oxygens, one of which is the bridge from the adjacent nickel unit in [Ni-I]40. Removal of the four iodides by silver ion precipitation yields an analogous species but with an additional vacant coordination site, [Ni-Solv]+, a cation but with coordinated solvent molecules. This also recrystallizes as the tetramer [Ni-Solv]44+. In solution, dissociation into the (presumed) monomer occurs, with coordinating solvents occupying the vacant site [Ni(N2S'O)I(solv)]0, ([Ni-I]0). Hydrodynamic radii determined from 1H DOSY NMR data suggest that monomeric units are present as well in CD2Cl2. Evans method magnetism values are consistent with triplet spin states in polar solvents; however, in CD2Cl2 solutions no paramagnetism is evident. The abilities of [Ni-I]40 and [Ni-Solv]44+ to serve as sources of electrocatalysts, or precatalysts, for the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) were explored. Cyclic voltammetry responses and bulk coulometry with gas chromatographic analysis demonstrated that a stronger acid, trifluoroacetic acid, as a proton source resulted in H2 production from both electroprecatalysts; however, electrocatalysis developed primarily from uncharacterized deposits on the electrode. With acetic acid as a proton source, the major contribution to the HER is from homogeneous electrocatalysis. Overpotentials of 490 mV were obtained for both the solution-phase [Ni-I]0 and [Ni-Solv]+. While the electrocatalyst derived from [Ni-Solv]+ has a substantially higher TOF (102 s-1) than [Ni-I]0 (19 s-1), it has a shorter catalytically active lifespan (4 h) in comparison to [Ni-I]0 (>18 h).