The aim of the project is to design and synthesize a new type of low-molecular-weight single Cu site which smoothly converts organic substrates to oxidised/oxygenated products in the presence of benign oxidants O2 or H2O2. In particular, the copper site is located at the bottom of a chemically inert cage, which should enhance the lifetime of a Cu(I)-O2 adduct at room temperature and prevent intra-molecular oxygenation of the ligand, but at the same time favours reaction with substrates by their incorporation in the cavity and exposure to the activated O2 species.
These systems are believed to be ideal models for a study of the properties and reactivity of monocopper-oxygen species, and potentially new reagents or catalyst for selective oxidations/oxygenations including less reactive hydrocarbon substrates (arenes, alkenes, alkanes). Since the covalent synthesis of such an encaged copper centre would be rather challenging, the metal-based assembly of the cage from a tripodal precursor and an allosteric, second metal ion is suggested, to obtain the target ligand readily and in sufficient quantity for thorough investigations including screening of reactivity.
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