Reversible, Metal-Free Hydrogen Activation

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Science  17 Nov 2006:
Vol. 314, Issue 5802, pp. 1124-1126
DOI: 10.1126/science.1134230

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Although reversible covalent activation of molecular hydrogen (H2) is a common reaction at transition metal centers, it has proven elusive in compounds of the lighter elements. We report that the compound (C6H2Me3)2PH(C6F4)BH(C6F5)2 (Me, methyl), which we derived through an unusual reaction involving dimesitylphosphine substitution at a para carbon of tris(pentafluorophenyl) borane, cleanly loses H2 at temperatures above 100°C. Preliminary kinetic studies reveal this process to be first order. Remarkably, the dehydrogenated product (C6H2Me3)2P(C6F4)B(C6F5)2 is stable and reacts with 1 atmosphere of H2 at 25°C to reform the starting complex. Deuteration studies were also carried out to probe the mechanism.

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