In this project funded by the Chemical Synthesis Program, Professor Connie Lu at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities will develop first-row bimetallic complexes with metal-metal bonds. Two complementary classes of first-row bimetallics are being targeted: (i) the early-late transition metal pair (e.g. a late metal particle adsorbed on an oxide support is typical of heterogeneous catalysts), and (ii) the mid-to-late transition metal pair (c.f. the multimetallic sites found in metalloenzymes). By using a novel ligand platform, diverse metal pairs will be constructed in a modular fashion and compared systematically. Structural, spectroscopic, and electronic characterization of the bimetallic species will reveal intimate bonding relationships.
This work will result in fundamental knowledge of how to tailor the electronic properties and reactivities of metal-metal bonds through scholarly choice of the metal pairings. In particular, activation of small molecules such as carbon dioxide by the proposed bimetallic species may lead to transformative discovery in sustainable chemistry. In a related effort, a student-created and community-edited online resource will provide public access to the results and relevant literature of this research field. Professor Lu will adapt the popular Solar Hydrogen Activity Research Kit (SHArK), an outreach program in several high schools and universities, to a solar energy workshop for middle school girls.