Redox-inactive metal ions can modulate the reactivity of redox-active metal ions in a variety of biological and chemical oxidations. Many synthetic models have been developed to help address the elusive roles of these redox-inactive metal ions. Using a non-heme manganese(II) complex as the model, the influence of redox-inactive metal ions as a Lewis acid on its catalytic efficiency in oxygen atom transfer was investigated. In the absence of redox-inactive metal ions, the manganese(II) catalyst is very sluggish, for example, in cyclooctene epoxidation, providing only 9.9% conversion with 4.1% yield of epoxide. However, addition of 2 equiv. of Al(3+) to the manganese(II) catalyst sharply improves the epoxidation, providing up to 97.8% conversion with 91.4% yield of epoxide. EPR studies of the manganese(II) catalyst in the presence of an oxidant reveal a 16-line hyperfine structure centered at g = 2.0, clearly indicating the formation of a mixed valent di-μ-oxo-bridged diamond core, Mn(III)-(μ-O)2-Mn(IV). The presence of a Lewis acid like Al(3+) causes the dissociation of this diamond Mn(III)-(μ-O)2-Mn(IV) core to form monomeric manganese(iv) species which is responsible for improved epoxidation efficiency. This promotional effect has also been observed in other manganese complexes bearing various non-heme ligands. The findings presented here have provided a promising strategy to explore the catalytic reactivity of some di-μ-oxo-bridged complexes by adding non-redox metal ions to in situ dissociate those dimeric cores and may also provide clues to understand the mechanism of methane monooxygenase which has a similar diiron diamond core as the intermediate.
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