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Electrochemical activation of C–H by electron-deficient W2C nanocrystals for simultaneous alkoxylation and hydrogen evolution

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Antonietti,  Markus
Markus Antonietti, Kolloidchemie, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Lin, X., Zhang, S.-N., Xu, D., Zhang, J.-J., Lin, Y.-X., Zhai, G.-Y., et al. (2020). Electrochemical activation of C–H by electron-deficient W2C nanocrystals for simultaneous alkoxylation and hydrogen evolution. In Review. doi:10.21203/rs.3.rs-113168/v1.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-A073-2
Abstract
Activation of C − H bonds is maybe the central challenge in organic chemistry and usually the key step for the retro-synthesis of functional natural products and medicines from abundant hydrocarbons due to the high chemical stability of C − H bonds. Electrochemical methods are now recognized as a powerful alternative for C − H activation, but this approach usually requires high overpotential and homogeneous mediators. Here, we designed electron-deficient W2C nanocrystal-based electrodes to boost the heterogeneous activation of C − H bonds under mild conditions via an additive-free, purely heterogeneous electrocatalytic strategy. The electron density of W2C nanocrystals was tuned by constructing Schottky heterojunctions with nitrogen-doped carbon support to facilitate the preadsorption and activation of benzylic C − H bonds of ethylbenzene on the W2C surface, enabling a high turnover frequency (18.8 h− 1) at a comparably low work potential (2 V versus SCE). The pronounced electron deficiency of the W2C nanocatalysts substantially facilitates the direct deprotonation process to ensure long-term electrode durability without self-oxidation. The eficient oxidation process also boosts the balancing hydrogen production from as-formed protons on the cathode by a factor of 10 compared to an inert reference electrode. The whole process meets the requirements of atomic economy and electric energy utilization in terms of sustainable chemical synthesis.