RSC Adv. 2023 Aug 15;13(35):24450-24459. doi: 10.1039/d3ra04709a. eCollection 2023 Aug 11.
Developing cost-effective electrocatalysts using earth-abundant metal as an alternative to expensive precious metal catalyst remains a key challenge for researchers. Several strategies are being researched/tested for making low-cost transition metal complexes with controlled electron-density and coordination flexibility around the metal center to enhance their catalytic activity. Herein, we report a novel lutidine coordinated cobalt(ii) acetate complex [(3,5-lutidine)2Co(OAc)2(H2O)2] (1) as a promising electrocatalyst for oxygen evolution reaction (OER). Complex 1 was characterized by FT-IR, elemental analysis, and single crystal X-ray diffraction data. The structure optimization of complex 1 was also done using DFT calculation and the obtained geometrical parameters were found to be in good agreement with the parameters obtained from the solid state structure obtained through single crystal X-ray diffraction data. Further, the molecular electrostatic potential (MEP) maps analysis of complex 1 observed electron rich centers that were found to be in agreement with the solid-state structure. It was understood that the coordination of lutidine as a Lewis base and acetate moiety as a flexible ligand will provide more coordination flexibility around the metal center to facilitate the catalytic reaction. Further, the electron rich centers around metal center will also support the enhancement of their catalytic activity. Complex 1 shows impressive OER activity, even better than the state-of-the-art IrO2 catalyst, in terms of turnover frequency (TOF: 0.05) and onset potential (1.50 V vs. RHE). The TOF for complex 1 is two and half times higher, while the onset potential is ca. 20 mV lower, than the benchmark IrO2 catalyst studied under identical conditions.