Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Scott Gronert

Second Advisor

Nicholas Farrell

Third Advisor

Matthew Hartman

Fourth Advisor

Heather Lucas

Fifth Advisor

Vamsi Yadavalli


Popular catalytic cycles, such as the Heck, Suzuki, and Negishi, utilize metal centers that oscillate between two oxidation states (II/0) during the three main steps of catalysis: reductive elimination, oxidative addition, and transmetallation. There has been a push to use less toxic, cheaper metal centers in catalytic cycles, leading to interest in first-row transition metals, such as nickel and cobalt. With these metals, the cycles can potentially pass through the +1 oxidation state, which acts as reactive intermediates, undergoing oxidative additions to form products, potentially with radical characteristics. The oxidative addition steps of catalytic cycles are critical to determining overall rates and products, however in many cases, these steps have not been amenable to study, in either condensed phase or gas phase, in the past. Through the use of electron transfer dissociation (ETD) technology on a modified Thermo Electron LTQ XLTM mass spectrometer, it is possible to generate intermediates in these catalytic cycles, including those in unusual oxidation states. Using sequentially coupled ion/ion-ion/molecule reactions, the reduced, reactive intermediate can be readily generated, isolated, and studied.As a model set of reactions, the mono- and bis-phenanthroline complexes of Fe(I), Co(I), Ni(I), Cu(I), and Zn(I) were formed by reduction of the corresponding M(II) species in an ion/ion reaction with the fluoranthenyl radical anion. The chemistry of the M(I) species was probed in ion/molecule reactions with allyl iodide. In order to explore ligand effects and the scope of oxidative addition reagents further, bipyridine and terpyridine were studied with these five first-row transition metal complexes while using an acetate series and other substrates for oxidative additions. Through these studies, the roles of the metal and ligand in dictating the product distributions and reaction rates were assessed. Metal electron count, ligand flexibility, and coordination number are critical factors. The overall reactivity is in accord with density functional theory calculations and mirrors that of proposed intermediates in condensed-phase catalytic cycles. In addition, second- and third-row transition metals (Ru(I), Pd(I), and Pt(I)) were explored with bipyridine, mono- and bis-triphenylphosphine, and 1,2-bis(diphenylphosphino)benzene ligation schemes. A variety of oxidative addition reagents were surveyed to determine the scope of reactivity and preference toward metal-carbon bond formation or carbon radical formation.


© Mariah Parker

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VCU University Archives

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VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission


Available for download on Tuesday, December 05, 2023