JBIC Journal of Biological Inorganic Chemistry

, Volume 24, Issue 7, pp 1127–1134 | Cite as

Properties and reactivity of μ-nitrido-bridged dimetal porphyrinoid complexes: how does ruthenium compare to iron?

  • M. Qadri E. Mubarak
  • Alexander B. Sorokin
  • Sam P. de VisserEmail author
Original Paper


Methane hydroxylation by metal-oxo oxidants is one of the Holy Grails in biomimetic and biotechnological chemistry. The only enzymes known to perform this reaction in Nature are iron-containing soluble methane monooxygenase and copper-containing particulate methane monooxygenase. Furthermore, few biomimetic iron-containing oxidants have been designed that can hydroxylate methane efficiently. Recent studies reported that μ-nitrido-bridged diiron(IV)-oxo porphyrin and phthalocyanine complexes hydroxylate methane to methanol efficiently. To find out whether the reaction rates are enhanced by replacing iron by ruthenium, we performed a detailed computational study. Our work shows that the μ-nitrido-bridged diruthenium(IV)-oxo reacts with methane via hydrogen atom abstraction barriers that are considerably lower in energy (by about 5 kcal mol‒1) as compared to the analogous diiron(IV)-oxo complex. An analysis of the electronic structure implicates similar spin and charge distributions for the diiron(IV)-oxo and diruthenium(IV)-oxo complexes, but the strength of the O‒H bond formed during the reaction is much stronger for the latter. As such a larger hydrogen atom abstraction driving force for the Ru complex than for the Fe complex is found, which should result in higher reactivity in the oxidation of methane.

Graphic abstract


Biomimetic models Methane oxidation µ-Nitrido complexes High-valent oxo species Phthalocyanine Porphyrin 



Density functional theory

Cpd I

Compound I


Bond dissociation energy


Electron affinity


Ionization energy



MQEM thanks the Government of Malaysia for a studentship. The EU-COST Network for Bioinorganic Reaction Mechanisms (CM1003) is acknowledged for support. ABS is grateful to ANR, France for support (Grant ANR-16-CE29-0018-01).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

775_2019_1725_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (848 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 847 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society for Biological Inorganic Chemistry (SBIC) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Qadri E. Mubarak
    • 1
  • Alexander B. Sorokin
    • 2
  • Sam P. de Visser
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science, Manchester Institute of BiotechnologyThe University of ManchesterManchesterUK
  2. 2.Institut de Recherches sur la Catalyse et l’Environnement de Lyon (IRCELYON), UMR 5256, CNRS, Université Lyon 1Villeurbanne CedexFrance

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