A Molecular MoS2 Edge Site Mimic for Catalytic Hydrogen Generation

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Science  10 Feb 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6069, pp. 698-702
DOI: 10.1126/science.1215868

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Inorganic solids are an important class of catalysts that often derive their activity from sparse active sites that are structurally distinct from the inactive bulk. Rationally optimizing activity is therefore beholden to the challenges in studying these active sites in molecular detail. Here, we report a molecule that mimics the structure of the proposed triangular active edge site fragments of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), a widely used industrial catalyst that has shown promise as a low-cost alternative to platinum for electrocatalytic hydrogen production. By leveraging the robust coordination environment of a pentapyridyl ligand, we synthesized and structurally characterized a well-defined MoIV-disulfide complex that, upon electrochemical reduction, can catalytically generate hydrogen from acidic organic media as well as from acidic water.

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